Li Na has confirmed that she will be beginning her 2014 season in Shenzhen to defend the title she won earlier this year.
Li won the inaugural Shenzhen Open at the start of 2013 and it proved to be the kickstart for a sensational month down under which saw her make the Australian Open final for the second time in her career, beating Maria Sharapova and Agnieszka Radwanska before losing to Victoria Azarenka in a tumultuous three setter.
“As defending Champion, I am happy and excited to be starting the 2014 WTA season once again in Shenzhen," Li said earlier this week. "Me and my team really enjoyed our stay at the inaugural tournament this year. The stadium, hotel, organisation and food were all top class and the people were most welcoming to me.
"I am proud that a first year tournament in my home country could be such a success, and I hope the tournament continues to grow and that I can play good tennis again for you all in January. Congratulations to the Shenzhen Gemdale Kaisa Open and see you soon."
The field will be even stronger in 2014 with former French Open finalist Sara Errani also competing. Errani has opted for a different start to the year in an attempt to do better at the Australian Open, having endured a couple of disappointing results over the past two years,
“I have heard many good things about your tournament in China; including you have very good pizza and pasta for the players! Good food is important to Italian people," Errani said. "I will be training hard in December so that I can play my best and make a strong result at the Shenzhen Gemdale Kaisa Open.”
Two-time former Grand Slam finalist Vera Zvonareva has also announced that she will be competing. Zvonareva has battled multiple injuries in recent years but is looking to make a strong comeback next year.
“I am excited to be playing my first matches of the 2014 WTA season in Shenzhen, China,” she said. “You may know that I had a shoulder surgery in 2013 and was off the Tour for most of this season. I am looking forward to playing many matches in 2014 and to being fully fit and healthy.”