2016 Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open Preview
2016 Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open
Niall Clarke, Tennis Atlantic
Tier: Premier 5
Location: Wuhan, China
Prize money: $2,288,250
Date: September 25- October 01
Top eight seeds who receive a first round Bye
- Angelique Kerber
- Garbine Muguruza
- Agnieszka Radwanska
- Simona Halep
- Karolina Pliskova
- Venus Williams
- Carla Suarez Navarro
- Madison Keys
Serena Williams was originally scheduled to play here but recently withdrew.
First round matches to watch
(16) Sam Stosur vs Caroline Wozniacki: Wozniacki has finally found some form in 2016 after struggling for most of the season. The Dane is set to play the final in Tokyo after defeating Radwanska in the semi finals.
Stosur is a tough round one though, and the head to head shows how close these contests are. Wozniacki leads 6-5 in the series with the latest match going the way of the Aussie via retirement.
A few of their meetings have gone the distance, so there is a fair chance of that happening here. One must wonder how Wozniacki will be physically after her efforts in Tokyo, but when you are in good form it can sometimes matter little.
(15) Roberta Vinci vs Monica Puig: Vinci’s ranking may have dropped post the US open, but the Italian is still a crafty player that is difficult to beat.
The former US Open finalist will be met by the Olympic Champion, Puig, in the opening round which will pit style vs style. The slice and dice of Vinci vs the power of Puig will be an interesting contest, and one that could go either way.
This will be only their second meeting, and the first on a hardcourt. It must be noted the difference between Puig this year compared to last, and that could be the difference.
Kerber’s quarter: The US Open champion is back in action as the number one player in the world. Who would have thought that 12 months a go? However, being the top seed has not done her many favours with the draw as she will face either Kristina Mladenovic or CoCo Vandeweghe in round two, both of whom are capable of an upset. The first seed Kerber will meet is Kvitova, but of course nothing is certain with the Czech.
Suarez Navarro is still reaping the rewards of consistency with her seventh seeded position in the draw, a position that grants her an opening round BYE. The second round prospect does not look bad with either Yania Wickmayer or Shelby Rogers awaiting the Spaniard. Johanna Konta has done a lot this year to convince the Tennis world that her form last year was no fluke. The Brit has improved tenfold over the past 18 months and may like her chances of a deep run here. Konta first must get through Annika Beck then a home favourite before her clash with Suarez Navarro.
Halep’s quarter: Halep has had a steady season that has kept her in the top five. The Romanian will head into Wuhan looking to ad another Premier title to her name. She could meet compatriot Irina Begu in the second round, but her recent struggles have been documented. Vinci is the other seed in this section, but her half is littered with dangerous unseeded players such as Puig and Yaroslava Shvedova who found form over the summer.
It seems like the tennis world has been waiting forever for the big Keys breakthrough that has been promised since she burst onto the scene. A title win in Wuhan would go a long way to that breakthrough, but the American must focus on her dangerous second prospect in the form of Caroline Garcia or Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. Timea Bacsinszky is the other seed in a section littered with qualifiers. Louisa Chrico is first for the Swiss, then it is either Daria Kasatkina or Julia Goerges.
Radwanska’s quarter: The third seed failed to defend her Tokyo title but she can make up lost points with a title run in Wuhan. The Pole will play either Ekaterina Makarova or Sabine Lisicki in round two, so there will be a big hitter to welcome Radwanska to Wuhan. Stosur is the other seed in this section, but it is perhaps Wozniacki who should be the most feared. The Dane is back in form and beat Radwanska in Tokyo. Katerina Siniakova and Timea Babos will meet for the right to face either Stosur or Wozniacki in round two.
Defending champion, Venus, has been drawn into this quarter. The American reeled back the years 12 months a go, can she do it again? Yulia Putintseva or Anastasija Sevastova will give the former world number one a tough match in the second round. Then it could be a meeting with two time grand slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in round three. The Russian faces the injury plagued Belinda Bencic in her opener before meeting either Madison Brengle or Heather Watson
Muguruza’s quarter: The Spaniard’s struggles have continued into Tokyo, and now the pressure is ramped up with lots of points to defend for the rest of the season. Muguruza faces Jelena Jankovic or Daria Gavrilova in her opening match, both feisty battlers. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is the other seed in this section, and she faces Misaki Doi then either Sara Errani or Barbora Strycova before a possible Muguruza meeting in the third round.
Pliskova failed to build on her US open final run in Tokyo, but the bigger stakes in Wuhan might bring the Czech back into form. She will likely meet compatriot Lucie Safarova in the second round who is a tough match for anyone. Dominika Cibulkova will be kicking herself for not taking advantage of her draw in Tokyo, but she can make amends in Wuhan. The Slovak faces Alize Cornet then either Laura Siegemund or Danka Kovinic before a potential clash with Pliskova.
Kerber def. Konta
Halep def. Keys
Venus def. Radwanska
Pliskova def. Strycova
Kerber def. Halep
Venus def. Pliskova
Kerber def. Venus
It is a tough tournament to predict, but when in doubt you go for the top seed.