WTA Hong Kong: Venus Williams and Caroline Wozniacki lead the field

A large contingent of top-20 players will head towards the Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open as Venus Williams and Caroline Wozniacki are slated to be the top seeds in the tournament but they will face several tough challenges amongst the field, which includes Johanna Konta and Kristina Mladenovic

WTA Hong Kong: Venus Williams and Caroline Wozniacki lead the field
A view of the Centre Court in Hong Kong | Photo: Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

The Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open will welcome the best field the tournament has ever had as six top-20 players, including the legendary Venus Williams and defending champion Caroline Wozniacki, will be making their appearances in Hong Kong to make a final push for a qualification spot at either the WTA Finals or the WTA Elite Trophy. The field features 13 players in the top-50, therefore making it believable that this tournament is at the International level on the tour.

Americans lead the field

Venus Williams, who recently reentered the top five in the rankings, reached an incredible two Grand Slam finals this year at the age of 37. The American will be making her third consecutive appearance in Hong Kong and she looks to better her semifinal finish back in 2015 when she lost to the eventual champion Jelena Jankovic in straight sets.

Sloane Stephens, who was ruled out of action for 11 months due to a foot injury before storming back to reach the semifinals in Toronto and Cincinnati, eventually closing out the US Open Series with a triumph at Flushing Meadows with the help of a protected ranking to enter the main draw. She now finds herself in the Top 20 having been ranked outside the Top 900 back in July, and the American will play her first match as a Grand Slam champion in Hong Kong.

Venus Williams and Sloane Stephens met in the US Open semifinals | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images North America
Venus Williams and Sloane Stephens met in the US Open semifinals | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images North America

A possible rematch of the 2016 final?

Slated to be the second seed, Wozniacki returns to Hong Kong as the defending champion having defeated Kristina Mladenovic in the final last year. Both players come back looking for more success with the Frenchwoman looking to stop a six-match losing streak which saw her lose 12 straight sets, while the Dane is playing some very consistent tennis thus far.

It would need some miraculous overnight work from Mladenovic if she were to be able to defend her finalist points but if she is able to find her early 2017 form, a deep run is highly possible here.

Caroline Wozniacki will be trying to defend her title here in Hong Kong | Photo: Getty Images
Caroline Wozniacki will be trying to defend her title here in Hong Kong | Photo: Getty Images

Former Grand Slam finalists join the tournament as well

Agnieszka Radwanska, who is playing in Hong Kong for the first time in her career, looks to make a return to the Top 10 with a good run here and after a tough start to the year, the Pole finally managed to remain healthy and started to gain confidence in her game, as mentioned in an interview recently.

2011 US Open champion Samantha Stosur, a former top-five player, looks to shrug off the disappointment from a first-round loss last year. A hand injury kept the Australian out of action for a lengthy three months but she finally returned to a tennis court last week at the Tokyo International, falling to Sara Sorribes Tormo in her comeback match.

One of the last direct entries to the tournament, former Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard, currently ranked in the 79th position, looks to cause some huge upsets in the early rounds. Being unseeded and looming, the Canadian could definitely create some chaos in the draw if she were to be firing on all cylinders.

Agnieszka Radwanska will be making her debut in Hong Kong | Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images North America
Agnieszka Radwanska will be making her debut in Hong Kong | Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images North America

Best of the rest

Seventh-ranked Johanna Konta returns to Hong Kong having wasted the golden opportunity to qualify for the WTA Finals with a quarterfinal appearance here last year but withdrew from her second-round match due to an abdominal strain. Already in pole position for a place in Singapore this year, Konta looks to carve a deep run here to confirm her qualification.

2016 semifinalist Daria Gavrilova, who won her first ever WTA title in New Haven weeks ago, aims to replicate her great run but it would be quite tricky for her to do so in such a tricky lineup. The only Chinese players in the draw are Zhang Shuai and Wang Qiang, who reached the quarterfinals last year.

Hard-hitting Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Kristyna Pliskova, Naomi Osaka, Shelby Rogers and Timea Babos also look to cause some upsets in the draw. Rounding off the entry list are the likes of Jennifer Brady, Aleksandra Krunic, Heather Watson and Risa Ozaki, who entered the main draw with the help of a withdrawal by Zheng Saisai.