WTA Insider breaks down the China Open draw as Bianca Andreescu returns to action and injury concerns loom for No.1 Ashleigh Barty and Simona Halep.
WTA Insider Courtney Nguyen
September 27, 2019

The main draw for the final Premier Mandatory tournament of the season is out at the China Open. Top seeds No.1 Ashleigh Barty and No.2 Karolina Pliskova lead a field that includes US Open champion and No.5 Bianca Andreescu, who is set to play her first event since winning in New York.?

Click here for the full draw.?

Top Eight Seeds: No.1 Ashleigh Barty, No.2 Karolina Pliskova, No.3 Elina Svitolina, No.4 Naomi Osaka, No.5 Bianca Andreescu, No.6 Simona Halep, No.7 Petra Kvitova, No.8 Kiki Bertens.?

Top Half: Barty, Svitolina, Kvitova, Bertens
Bottom Half: Pliskova, Osaka, Andreescu, Halep

Projected Round of 16: Barty vs. Stephens, Bencic vs. Kvitova, Svitolina vs. Kenin, Kerber vs. Bertens, Andreescu vs. Keys, Wang Qiang vs. Osaka, Halep vs. Sabalenka, Wozniacki vs. Pliskova

Last year's final: Caroline Wozniacki d. Anastasija Sevastova, 6-3, 6-3.?

Bianca Andreescu and Naomi Osaka could meet for the 1st time?

The US Open champion is back in action in her first tournament since New York and could face another scion of the WTA's youth brigade in Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka. Osaka and Andreescu, seeded No.4 and No.5 respectively, could face each other in the quarterfinals.?

Both women are riding a win-streak heading into Beijing, with Andreescu riding a 13-match win-streak after her summer heroics through Toronto and New York, and Osaka winning her home tournament in Osaka last week.?

Andreescu brings her 8-0 record against Top 10 opposition into her China Open debut, where she is set to open against Aliaksandra Sasnovich, with the winner to play either Petra Martic or Elise Mertens. The 19-year-old has a chance to become the 1st woman to win two Premier Mandatories in a season since Victoria Azarenka completed the Sunshine Double in 2016. Both Andreescu and No.1 Barty have the chance to become the 1st woman since Maria Sharapova in 2014 to win a major and two Premier Mandatory tournaments in a single season.?

"Well, I'm feeling pretty confident," Andreescu said at All Access Hour in Beijing. "I've been having some really good practices lately. I had a good training week in Toronto and in Montreal. Now here.

"I got here four days ago, and I've been practicing really well. So I'm feeling pretty confident."

While Andreescu is set to make her China Open debut, Osaka is looking to build on her success in Osaka. A semifinalist in Beijing last year, the former No.1 has enjoyed good success during the Asian swing, having won 11 of her last 13 matches during the regular season. Osaka faces Jessica Pegula in the first round, with the winner to play either Jil Teichmann or a qualifier.

Osaka is still chasing qualification for the Shiseido WTA Finals Shenzhen and could confirm her spot this week in Beijing.?

"I would really want to make the Finals," Osaka said in Beijing.?"I kind of organized the next month of my schedule based around it. Definitely that's my goal.

"But at the same time, I don't want to think too much into the future. I have to think about the matches that I have to play here. I guess it's like one of those things where time will tell. I just have to focus on the people I'm playing at this tournament."

Porsche Race to Shenzhen coming down to the wire

With 1,000 points on the line in Beijing, all eyes are on three specific players who are shaping up to battle it out for the final qualifying spots: Elina Svitolina, Belinda Bencic, and Kiki Bertens. Svitolina was the only one of the three to advance to the quarterfinal stage in Wuhan, allowing her to move up one spot to the No.8 qualifying position, with Bencic at No.9 and Bertens at No.10. All three will have a chance to overtake Serena Williams, who sits at No.7 on the Leaderboard but is not entered in Beijing.?

No.3 Svitolina opens against last year's finalist Anastasija Sevastova in the first round, Bencic faces Hsieh Su-Wei, and Bertens face Donna Vekic.

WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai qualifying race heats up

While the field for the Shiseido WTA Finals Shenzhen is looking clearer after Wuhan, the battle to qualify for the WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai is heating up.?

The Zhuhai field will be comprised of the Top 11 players who do not qualify for Shenzhen, plus one wildcard, which means the players sitting between No.18 and No.30 will be jockeying for position for the next three weeks.?

This includes Sloane Stephens, Alison Riske, Amanda Anisimova, Elise Mertens, Donna Vekic, Dayana Yastremska, Hsieh Su-Wei, and Barbora Strycova, just to name a few.?

Injury concerns for Barty, Halep, and Keys

No.1 Ashleigh Barty picked up a left calf injury in the Wuhan semifinal and Halep was forced to retire in her second match due to a lower back injury. Keys was also forced to retire from her quarterfinal in Osaka due to a foot injury and withdrew from Wuhan last week.?

All three women are currently in the draw in Beijing.?

Notable first round matches: Belinda Bencic vs. Hsieh Su-Wei, Venus Williams vs. Barbora Strycova, Sofia Kenin vs. Garbi?e Muguruza, Caroline Garcia vs. Dayana Yastremska, Donna Vekic vs. Kiki Bertens, Elise Mertens vs. Petra Martic, Madison Keys vs. Karolina Muchova, Karolina Pliskova vs. Jelena Ostapenko.?