Wuhan Open 2017 Pre-Tournament Preview: Muguruza, Halep, Pliskova headline action

This is a new feature on the WTA Fanatic Blog, bringing to you all the entry list updates and headlines coming into the final Premier 5 event of the year at Wuhan. 

WTA Wuhan Open 2017 – Kvitova, Muguruza favourites for the title

The last Premier 5 event of the year in Wuhan features a brilliant line-up; although it is a new event that was held only since 2014, many players still return to this tournament – I mean, no one can resist the 2.6 million prize purse right? 😂 Most of the top 10 players will be coming to Wuhan, with the exception being Elina Svitolina and Venus Williams. It’s a strange choice for the former, who has won three out of the four Premier 5 events this year, but maybe she wants to take a bit of a break and that’s pretty wise.

Venus will also skip this year’s edition which is a right decision considering she has played many matches during the US hard court swing. It will be a pity for the Venus fans in Chinese though as they probably have good memories of her winning the tournament in 2015…

Image result for venus williams wuhan

So with this, the top two seeds will be Garbine Muguruza and Simona Halep, followed closely by Karolina Pliskova, Johanna Konta, Caroline Wozniacki, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Dominika Cibulkova and lastly Jelena Ostapenko. Muguruza and Cibulkova were former finalists, in 2015 and 2016 respectively. If you’re wondering who was the 2014 finalist, it’s actually Eugenie Bouchard! Seeded No.6 then, she has to resort to qualifying in this year’s event… (Update: She has withdrawn from Wuhan.)

Petra Kvitova returns to ‘Wuhanbledon’

The only former champion is in the main draw though – Petra Kvitova, winner in 2014 & 2016, will be returning to what she dubs as ‘Wuhanbledon’ to defend her title. Stat: out of her 20 career titles, she has only managed to defend one successfully, in New Haven! However Kvitova will probably continue to do well in Wuhan where she boosts an outstanding 12-1 win-loss record!

Race for No.1, WTA Finals heats up

The race for the World No.1 ranking and the Race to Singapore leaderboard continues with Muguruza, Pliskova and Halep in contention for the No.1 ranking at Wuhan (according to my calculations).

As of Tokyo

Muguruza – 6030 [defending 60 pts]  (not including Tokyo points)

Halep – 5965 [defending 350 pts]

Pliskova – 5520 [defending 105 pts] (not including Tokyo points)

In the Race to Singapore. Muguruza has already qualified, while Halep is also confirmed as she only needs 35 more points to qualify. It gets tighter where No.3 Pliskova and No.6 Wozniacki are just 600 points apart. These players still need more work during the Asian swing to solidify their place at the top. Konta and Jelena Ostapenko round up the top 8, but needs awesome results in Asia to not get dethroned by the likes of Svetlana Kuznetsova, Kristina Mladenovic, Coco Vandeweghe, Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens. However, it seems a little unlikely as No.9 Mladenovic is 700 points apart from Ostapenko…

Radwanska, Kerber, Mladenovic all trying to revive their seasons

However, it doesn’t mean that the top ranked players will have their way in Wuhan. With a 64-player draw, 16 players will be seeded, such as Madison Keys, Agnieszka Radwanska, Kristina Mladenovic, Angelique Kerber, Stephens, and more. There are caveats though with Keys and Radwanska withdrawing from Tokyo with injury and illness respectively, Mladenovic on a seven-match losing streak, while Kerber is only just beginning to regain her past form.

ICYMI: An Angieszka Radwanska fan? Check out my YouTube channel here where I made a video of her top 10 shots in Tokyo!

Unseeded players to look out for

Caroline Garcia: The Frenchwoman will just miss out on a seeding (unless withdrawals) although she reached the quarterfinals in Roland Garros earlier this year. She’s having a really consistent season though and look out for her to cause some early upsets with her big, aggressive game.

Daria Gavrilova: Gavrilova is another player to miss out on a seed and although she fell to Magda Linette in Tokyo in a shocking performance, the Australian is having one of her best seasons having captured her first career title in New Haven. Look out for her in the draw as she always has a habit of dragging top seeded players to three sets in the early rounds…

Zhang Shuai: Although not having good results this year, Zhang Shuai has always done well in her native China and this is continuing in 2017, reaching the Guangzhou quarterfinals (as of writing) whilst dropping only one game. It won’t be surprising if she brings her form to Wuhan and start upsetting some seeds…

Qualifying draw is out

Since WTA is always a fun mess with random names coming out of nowhere to make deep runs in tournaments, maybe one of these qualifiers can make a name for themselves in Tokyo? 🤔

Lastly, ending this pre-tournament preview off with a fun picture of Halep, Elena Vesnina, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Ekaterina Makarova!

Please follow my Tokyo predictions here and my Twitter account here 🙂 Thank you for reading!

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