WTA Tianjin: Petra Kvitova and Maria Sharapova headlines entry list

Petra Kvitova and Maria Sharapova will make their debuts at the Tianjin Open this year with the Russian receiving a wildcard into the tournament, with some tough challenge coming from former champions Peng Shuai and Alison Riske.

WTA Tianjin: Petra Kvitova and Maria Sharapova headlines entry list
Petra Kvitova and Maria Sharapova are the biggest names in the draw this year | Photos: Getty Images

The 2017 Tianjin Open will welcome a strong field as Grand Slam champions Petra Kvitova and Maria Sharapova headlines the draw in which defending champion and home favourite Peng Shuai will be looking to defend her title.

However, it is deemed to be a weaker lineup as compared to previous years since top players like Karolina Pliskova, Agnieszka Radwanska, Elina Svitolina and Svetlana Kuznetsova (who all made appearances in Tianjin in previous years) all decided to skip the International event to prepare for the bigger tournaments.

Big names headline the field

Nonetheless, the tournament sales will definitely be boosted by the debut appearance of former world number one and five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova, who received a wildcard into the draw. Reaching the fourth round at the US Open, the Russian is currently ranked 103rd and she needs an impressive performance here to confirm her place in the Australian Open main draw. It is also rumoured that this will be Sharapova’s last tournament of the year.

Maria Sharapova in action at the US Open | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images North America
Maria Sharapova in action at the US Open | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images North America

Sharapova sounded really excited to make her first appearance in Tianjin, “We travel around the world and we always play the same events, we know our grounds, we know where we are going, we know what we are doing. So the exciting part is getting to a new city, a new place, a new fan base as well, I am excited about the chance to play there.”

Petra Kvitova, a two-time Wimbledon champion, is slated to be the top seed in Tianjin if the Top 20 wildcard is not used, and she looks to claim the title on her first appearance as well. The Czech found some of her best tennis recently at the US Open and judging by her impressive record in Asia, she is undoubtedly the favourite to triumph. Kvitova is making a late push to qualify for the WTA Elite Trophy but her 36th position in the Porsche Race to Singapore leaderboard shows that she has to be on fire throughout the Asian swing.

Petra Kvitova in action at the US Open | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images North America
Petra Kvitova in action at the US Open | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images North America

Former champions return to Tianjin

The inaugural edition of the tournament saw Alison Riske take the title and she will be making her fourth consecutive appearance in Tianjin, playing every edition of the tournament thus far. As the rankings stand, Riske is currently the fifth seed in the tournament and she would be hoping for a favourable draw to defend her finalist points from last year.

Home favourite and the resurgent Peng Shuai returns to Tianjin as the defending champion, having won the title last year. Hailing from Tianjin, her triumph in 2016 was extremely special as she finally claimed her first ever WTA title of her career at the age of 30.

Peng mentioned, “This will be my fourth Tianjin Open and the tournament will always hold a special place in my heart as this is where I won my first WTA title. I have many unforgettable memories and I hope that I can play well again for all the fans from my hometown and try to defend my title.” Certainly, Tianjin is a place which holds a special place in her heart."

Peng Shuai with her title in Tianjin last year | Photo: STR/Getty Images
Peng Shuai with her title in Tianjin last year | Photo: STR/Getty Images

Other notable players

Caroline Garcia is slated to make her first ever appearance in Tianjin along with Lesia Tsurenko, who will both be the top four seeds in the tournament. They look to fend off the tough challenge put up by Yulia Putintseva, who aims to overcome the disappointment from an opening round defeat last year. Irina-Camelia Begu and Donna Vekic round off all eight seeds.

Hard-hitters Sabine Lisicki, a former Wimbledon finalist, and Beatriz Haddad Maia look to cause some upsets in the draw as they will be unseeded and looming, along with the likes of Christina McHale, Nao Hibino, Danka Kovinic, Magda Linette and Misaki Doi.

Other players in the main draw list include Sara Sorribes Tormo, Evgeniya Rodina, Duan Yingying, Maria Sakkari, Hsieh Su-wei and Kateryna Bondarenko.

The tournament director released the following statement after the players field was announced, “This year's player field is yet again a demonstration of the growing success of the Tianjin Open as we continue to attract superstars like Maria, Petra and Peng Shuai to Tianjin. The tournament team is very excited about the quality of tennis that the players will showcase and will be a fantastic opportunity for tennis fans across Tianjin to watch some amazing tennis this October.”

The Tianjin Open begins action on the 9th of October 2017 at the Tianjin International Tennis Center, with qualifying kicking off two days earlier.