The 2019 edition of the Shenzhen Open will feature the former World No. 1 Maria Sharapova, along with the 2017 French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko and the reigning Tianjin champion Caroline Garcia.
Sharapova is quite familiar with playing in Shenzhen, considering that she started her 2018 season with this every tournament. Back then, the 31-year-old Russian could reach as far as the semifinal before losing to Katerina Siniakova.
Her most of 2018 season was along the same lines. Her best run undoubtedly came on clay – she reached the semifinal at the Italian Open and the quarterfinal at the French Open. Nonetheless, she did enough to break into the top 30 after starting the season as the World No. 59.
Fans will be eager to watch Sharapova get back to her winning ways. The five-time Grand Slam champion hasn’t won a title since the 2017 Tianjin Open.
Coming to Ostapenko, the young Latvian had a rather decent run in 2018. In March, she became the World No. 5 – her best ranking on the circuit so far – after reaching the final at the Miami Masters. However, she ultimately succumbed to Sloane Stephens and missed out on the title.
She accomplished a similar feat at the Wimbledon, where she made it to the semifinal before bowing down to Angelique Kerber. Thereafter, her form plummeted as she struggled to move past the early rounds in subsequent tournaments. As a result, she eventually fell out of the top 20.
Among the three participants, Garcia is the only player to have won a title in 2018 – she won Tianjin after defeating Karolina Pliskova in the final. She also reached the semifinal at the Madrid Open. However, just like her Latvian adversary, she too started her season in the top 10, only to end it as the World No. 19.
The tournament, which will mark the start of the 2019 WTA Tour, is an International tier event with prize money of US $750,000. This makes it one of the most prestigious tournaments in this tier and also serves as an important practice run in the build-up to the Australian Open. It will start on December 30, with the final set to be played on January 5, 2019.