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Serena Williams leads glittering field at the inaugural Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open

Hannah Wilks in WTA Tour 19 Sep 2014
Serena Williams is the top seed at the inaugural Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

The inaugural Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open sees world no. 1 Serena Williams leading a draw featuring 19 of the WTA Tour’s top 20 players.  

Watch WTA Wuhan live from Sunday 21 September:

We break down the WTA Wuhan draw as China’s new Premier 5 event promises some sensational tennis, with all of the WTA Tour’s best active players in action.

Hometown heroine Li Na’s retirement from tennis is a blow to the tournament but with almost all of the WTA Tour’s top 20 players in action, plus wildcards like two-time Grand Slam champion Victoria Azarenka, it’s going to be a week to remember in Wuhan. 

Top Quarter

Projected quarterfinal – Serena Williams (1) vs Eugenie Bouchard (6) (1-0)

On top of the world once more after capturing her eighteenth Grand Slam title at the US Open, world no. 1 Serena Williams looks to capture her seventh title of the year – adding to her haul of Brisbane, Miami, Rome, Stanford, Cincinnati and the US Open – in Wuhan.

Williams could face early trouble as Alize Cornet, who beat her twice in 2014 in Dubai and at Wimbledon, could await in the second round – but Cornet, who has gone deep in the Guangzhou draw and has an 0-2 record against her first-round opponent Romina Oprandi, might not be in the best shape to face Williams if she does make it. And Williams has a perfect record against her projected third-round opponent, Indian Wells champion Flavia Pennetta, who most recently lost to her in the quarterfinals of the US Open.  

In the bottom section, Eugenie Bouchard returns to action for the first time since the US Open where she suffered an early defeat to Ekaterina Makarova. The Wimbledon runner-up could face a tough task early as, after a first-round bye, she’s likely to face Peng Shuai – the highest-ranked Chinese player in the draw, the focus of a lot of local expectation and a player who produced some superlative tennis on her run to the US Open semifinals. 

If Peng brings her New York form to Wuhan it could be an early challenge for Bouchard, with eleventh seed Sara Errani projected to await in the third round. Errani has not been in the best of form, however, so if Bouchard dodges the Peng bullet, she could be in the quarterfinals to face Serena Williams for the first time since becoming a top-10 player.

Semifinalist: Williams

Second quarter

Projected quarterfinal – Maria Sharapova (4) vs Caroline Wozniacki (8) (5-3)

How about this for a New York re-match? Caroline Wozniacki’s defeat of Maria Sharapova in New York was instrumental in Wozniacki’s progression to her second Grand Slam final and if they meet again in the Wuhan quarterfinals the Russian could have the edge, more rested after an early exit from New York while Wozniacki is into the Tokyo semifinals.

But will they both get there? Fourth seed Sharapova has the better draw, opening against either the occasionally world-beating Svetlana Kuznetsova or young Kurumi Nara, who is becoming an increasingly dangerous floater but should not trouble Sharapova too much, and is likely to face Ekaterina Makarova in the third round. Makarova was a semifinalist at the US Open and played fantastic tennis there, but she doesn’t have the best record at bringing that same level outside of Grand Slams and the only other named player in the section is Baku and Tashkent finalist Bojana Jovanovski, who should be no real threat.

Wozniacki, meanwhile, could face the tough Carla Suarez Navarro – who she just had to play in the quarterfinals of Tokyo – in the second round with ninth seed Ana Ivanovic, who has been one of the WTA’s best players in 2014 outside the Grand Slams, her projected third-round opponent. An Ivanovic-Wozniacki match with the winner likely to meet Sharapova would be a sight to see, but Ivanovic’s part of the draw is a tough one: The Serb opens against the big-hitting Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and could meet Casey Dellacqua, who is quietly having a very good year, in the second round.

Semifinalist: Sharapova

Third quarter

Projected quarterfinal – Agnieszka Radwanska (5) vs Petra Kvitova (3) (1-5)

 A magnificently intriguing quarter, this, bracketed by Montreal champion Agnieszka Radwanska and Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova.

Kvitova, who fell early at the US Open to Aleksandra Krunic, has had some good results in this part of the season before and her path through to the draw is easier than Radwanska’s, although still not without its pitfalls: The Czech will open against one of two qualifiers yet to be determined, and is seeded to meet Charleston champion and French Open semifinalist Andrea Petkovic in the third round, although the German will have to contend with either the slumping Samantha Stosur or the big-serving Karolina Pliskova, who is developing a taste for big upsets but is likely to be suffering some fatigue after going deep in the Guangzhou draw, in the second round.

Radwanska, meanwhile, has two of the biggest potential mavericks in the Wuhan draw in her section: Venus Williams and Victoria Azarenka. The second round could see a Montreal final re-match between Radwanska and Williams after the American opens against Bogota champion Caroline Garcia, who seemingly can’t buy a win of late, and a plethora of tricky players could await in the third: Jelena Jankovic is the seed and opens against Christina McHale, while the unseeded Azarenka must contend with ‘s-Hertogenbosch champion Coco Vandeweghe in the first round, who has had some big wins of late. 

Semifinalist: Williams 

Fourth quarter

Projected quarterfinal – Angelique Kerber (7) vs Simona Halep (2) (0-2)

Seventh seed Angelique Kerber, already a four-time finalist in 2014, is another player who will have to make a quick transition from Tokyo, where she is in the semifinals, but the German has played well in this part of the season before and has a decent draw. Likely to face Klara Koukalova, who is not on great form, in the second round, Kerber is seeded to play Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova – whom she just beat 6-3, 6-0 in Tokyo – in the third round, but could potentially have a shot at revenge against Madison Keys, Cibulkova’s first-round opponent, who beat Kerber in the Eastbourne final instead. The German looks very strong to come through to the quarterfinals.

Will it be Simona Halep – another player who beat Kerber in a final this year – who awaits? Halep has not been playing very well since winning Bucharest and suffered an early exit at the US Open, but she’s had some time to recharge her batteries and will open against either Garbine Muguruza, who has reached the semifinals in Tokyo and might struggle to make the transition, or Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor, whom Halep has handled fairly easily before. The battle to be Halep’s third-round opponent will be a fierce and fun one, with Wimbledon semifinalist Lucie Safarova – playing some of the best tennis of her career – the seed, but facing a tough opener against Hong Kong champion Sabine Lisicki and a potentially tough second-round against either Baku champion Elina Svitolina or the erratic Camila Giorgi. 

Semifinalist: Halep


The Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open begins in Wuhan on Sunday 21 September and will be available to watch online. 

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Serena Williams leads glittering field at the inaugural Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open

Breaking down the WTA Wuhan 2014 draw, led by Serena Williams, Simona Halep and Maria Sharapova – watch live

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