It's not often that Williams opts to compete in Asia (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images for the USTA)
Serena Williams is the strong favourite to win the China Open title this week with the dangerous Petra Kvitova in the opposite half of the draw.
Kvitova was not at her best in Tokyo last week but she produced some fighting tennis when she needed it to see off Venus Wiliams and Angelique Kerber in a couple of tough three setters. It was a welcome title for the Czech who was disappointed by her performances on the hard courts over the summer.
She has a good chance to do well again this week and she could face out of form fifth seed Sara Errani in the last sixteen with a potential quarter-final showdown with Li Na on the cards.
Victoria Azarenka will be hoping for a better showing this week after her shock second round defeat to Venus in Tokyo. Azarenka complained of feeling unwell after the match but after a few days to recover, she is expected to be fully fit for her opening match in Beijing against Germany's Andrea Petkovic, a former top ten player.
The biggest threat standing between Azarenka and a place in the last eight is Sam Stosur who beat her in the final of San Diego back in August.
Serena rarely competes on the Asian swing but she's opted to try and add another title to the glittering array of silverware she's amassed this year. Her success means she's already guaranteed to finish 2013 as world number one. She starts against Elena Vesnina with her first test likely to come against either Sloane Stephens or Caroline Wozniacki in the quarters.
Wozniacki enjoys competing in Asia and played well in Tokyo last week, reaching the semi-finals before losing to Kerber.