SHENZHEN, December 3, 2018 (Press Release)
The US$750,000 2019 Shenzhen Open has already announced some of its early marquee players who will take to the courts of the Shenzhen Longgang Sports Centre from 29 December 2018 to 5 January 2019. They are five-time major winner and tennis superstar Maria Sharapova, 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko and French star Caroline Garcia.
Tournament Director Luiz Carvalho is now very pleased to announce the tournament’s entire field, and players from China are among those that dominate the line-up. For only the second time in the tournament’s history and the first since 2014, four players from China are directly into the main draw based on the strength of their rankings.
Leading the group is 26 year-old Wang Qiang who is at a career high ranking of No. 20. The Tianjin native, who is coached by Australian great Peter McNamara, enjoyed a standout season in 2018 that saw her win two titles at Guangzhou and Nanchang. She was also a finalist in the nearby cities of Zhuhai and Hong Kong. In Zhuhai, she had wins over Madison Keys and Garbine Muguruza while in Hong Kong, she defeated Elina Svitolina and Muguruza.
Wang Qiang has played at a consistently high level this year. She was also a semi-finalist in Beijing, Wuhan and Hiroshima, where she upsetting Ostapenko, Karolina Pliskova and Aryna Sabalenka. She was also a quarterfinalist in Strasbourg.
The list of Chinese stars continues with Zhang Shuai, who has become a recognised name on the Tour over the last couple of years. The world No.40 comes from a sporting background – her father is a footballer and her mother a basketball player. In 2018, she reached the semis in Hong Kong, Hiroshima and Prague, and the quarters at Beijing (where she stunned Wimbledon champion Angie Kerber) as well as Nanchang, Acapulco and Budapest.
Zheng Saisai ended the season with a career high ranking of 39. This year, she won the title in Zhengzhou as well at two ITF events in Suzhou and Quanzhou. She also made the finals in Nanchang and Anning and the ITF event here in Shenzhen. Zheng was also a semifinalist in Washington and a quarterfinalist in Mumbai.
The final player from China direct into the main draw is Wang Yafan. She won the ITF tournament in Liuzhou and was a finalist at the ITF events in Jinan and Zhengzhou. Wang Yafan was a semi-finalist in Chinese Taipei, where she beat Eugenie Bouchard, and made the quarters in Bucharest and ITF events in Shenzhen and Anning.
“This is fantastic for tennis in China to see so many national players in the main draw,” Tournament Director Luiz Carvalho said. “In 2013 and 2014, Li Na won our first two tournaments; maybe one of these ladies will join her on the honour role in 2019. It is very exciting for the fans to be able to cheer on players from their own nation and we look forward to a great atmosphere around the courts.
“Not only are we happy to see so many national players, we are also excited about the rest of our wonderful line-up of players – like Maria Sharapova, Jelena Ostapenko and Caroline Garcia. But one young player is sure to attract plenty of attention and that is Aryna Sabalenka, the 20 year-old from Belarus, who has enjoyed a stunning season on the WTA Tour. Her name heads the full entry list and fans will definitely be thrilled to see her play.”
Sabalenka is certainly one of the most talked about names in the women’s game. She is tall, powerful and is knocking on the door of the top ten. Currently at a ranking of 13, just shy of her No.11 career high first achieved in early October. She is the youngest player in the top 20 and the only player in the top 20 to have won 50 or more matches (51) in 2018.
Sabalenka won titles in Wuhan and New Haven, while making the finals at Eastbourne and Lugarno, the semifinals in Cincinnati and reaching quarterfinals six times – at the Shenzhen Open, Tianjin, Beijing, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Dubai and Hobart.
There will be 15 nations represented at the 2019 Shenzhen Open. Joining China with the largest contingent is Russia with four players then Romania with three, and France with two. The following nations have one representative each before qualifying matches begin – Belarus, Germany, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Thailand, Tunisia and the USA.
The entry cut-off stands at No. 90, with Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan last into the main draw.
The tournament is very pleased to also announce that the first two days, December 29 and 30, will see free admission provided for Centre Court matches and there will be free admission to the other two match courts throughout the week.