ZHENGZHOU OPEN: Following on almost immediately from the China Open, the WTA Tour remains in east Asia for the Zhengzhou Open, which is part of the WTA 500 circuit.
Many of the players will have battled hard to get their hands on the WTA 1000 title that comes with winning the China Open, but many of the Tour’s top players will remain on show in the country for the Zhengzhou Open.
Elena Rybakina – No.1 seed
Elena Rybakina has been one of the standout names on the WTA Tour this year so it is no surprise that she heads into the Zhengzhou Open as the number one seed. With the tournament having not been played since 2019, this will be Rybakina’s first appearance.
Rybakina currently ranks fifth in the world and she has had an impressive year so far. She kicked off 2023 in style as she reached the final of the Australian Open, as well as putting on a strong showing in reaching the quarter-final stage at Wimbledon.
She has also added to WTA 1000 titles to her resume this year, with one coming on hardcourt and the other on clay. Not to mention that she reached her highest ever world ranking of third back in June.
As the top seed, Rybakina will come into this tournament with every hope of securing her sixth career title on the WTA Tour, and her third on hardcourt.
Maria Sakkari – Hardcourt specialist
Maria Sakkari has made giant strides in her career in the WTA Tour in the past couple of years, and now the 28-year-old is playing some of the best tennis of her life.
Reaching a top ranking of third in the world in March 2022, she currently ranks sixth and is one of the most consistent players on the Tour. She is yet to add a Grand Slam string to her bow but having reached two semi-finals, a serious challenge is surely not far away.
Sakkari’s specialties lie in hardcourt tennis where she has seven of her nine final appearances on the WTA Tour. A final curse seemed to be looming over the Greek international, having played eight and only won one. That was until last moth when she won the Guadalajara Open, a hardcourt tournament, on the WTA 1000 circuit, defeating Coco Gauff in the final.
That final victory could be just what Sakkari needs to really kick on and get some tangible results on her record, and this could be the perfect opportunity to secure her third career title.
Coco Gauff – High profile wildcard
Just over ago the roster for the Zhengzhou Open was seriously boosted when world number three Coco Gauff accepted a wildcard invitation. Having been knocked out of the China Open at the quarter-final stage by Sakkari just days ago, she will be as keen as ever to impress the crowds in China.
Having secured her first Grand Slam title at the US Open last month, 19-year-old Gauff will be determined to continue her form and end the season on a real high. She is heading into this one with three tournament wins to her name over the past three months so form is really on her side.
Gauff has picked up six WTA titles so far, an incredible number given her age, with five of those coming on hardcourt. Having accepted the wildcard invitation she has proven keen to impress the masses in China and make herself a truly global phenomenon, and what better way to do that than by storming to victory at the Zhengzhou Open.