This year's Wuhan Open is set to feature some of the biggest stars of women's tennis, including eight Grand Slam champions, when the WTA Premier 5 event gets underway in the central Chinese city of Wuhan next month.
Seventeen of the world's Top 20 and eight of the world's Top 10 will compete in Wuhan, birthplace of Chinese tennis legend and International Tennis Hall of Fame inductee Li Na, the Wuhan Open organizing committee announced late Thursday.
This year's field contains world No.2 and reigning Roland Garros champion Ashleigh Barty, Wimbledon winner and world No. 4 Simona Halep, 2018 Australian Open champion and former world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki, former Wimbledon and Roland Garros winner Garbine Muguruza, as well as two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka. The 2016 Australian Open, 2016 U.S. Open and 2018 Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber also enters.
"I've always enjoyed playing in Wuhan. The facilities are great and I feel comfortable there as the court reminds me of Pat Rafter Arena at home in Brisbane. I've played some great tennis in Wuhan in the past and I'm looking forward to returning this year," said Ashleigh Barty.
"Wuhan Open is such a big event, with incredible facilities and an amazing tournament team there. It's got one of the strongest fields of any tournament on the Tour and it's great to be part of it," said Caroline Wozniacki.
This year's prize money purse in Wuhan totals 2.828 million U.S. dollars, including a 520,615-dollar cheque for the 2019 singles champion, making it one of the biggest prizes on the WTA Tour.
In addition, there is a 900 WTA singles ranking points on offer to the winner, which means the Wuhan Open is a pivotal tournament for those competing for places in the year-end WTA Finals in Shenzhen.
Local excitement will be focused on world No. 17 Wang Qiang, who rode a wave of noisy crowd support to reach the semifinals in Wuhan last year, as well as world No.34 Zhang Shuai, who is also a huge favorite with her home fans.
Their countrywoman Zheng Saisai is also included in the 43-person name list. She is ranked 39 after winning the biggest title of her career at the WTA Premier Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose earlier this month.