Every week wtatennis.com brings you 10 Things To Know about the week - who is playing, where and much more. This week the Road To Singapore goes through Doha and Acapulco...
1) Doha is the first Premier 5 tournament of 2016.
The Qatar Total Open is a Premier 5 event and part two of the WTA's fortnightly tour of the Middle East - part one is the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. There's nearly $3 million on the line, with the winner pocketing $518,500 and a whopping 900 points for the Road To Singapore leaderboard.
2) World No.2 Angelique Kerber plays her first tournament since winning the Australian Open.
Kerber played a solid weekend in Fed Cup - going 1-1 in her singles matches against Timea Bacsinszky and Belinda Bencic - but the German comes to Doha looking to build on her early season momentum; she remains the only player to reach more than one final in 2016. It won't be easy for the 2014 finalist with her fellow Top 8 seeds in tow: Simona Halep, Agnieszka Radwanska, Garbiñe Muguruza, Petra Kvitova, Bencic, Lucie Safarova, and Carla Suárez Navarro.
3) Agnieszka Radwanska is also hoping to build on her strong start to the season.
Out since the Australian Open with a left leg injury, the reigning BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global champion was undefeated through the semifinals in Melbourne, having won the title at the Shenzhen Open. Though she fell to World No.1 Serena Williams in her last match, the Pole has otherwise looked good since last year's US Open, and is poised to rise to World No.3 on Monday.
4) Defending champion Lucie Safarova makes her 2016 debut.
Safarova's stellar 2015 season started off last year in Doha. The Czech earned back-to-back Top 10 wins and beat former No.1 Victoria Azarenka in the final, parlaying that result into a maiden Grand Slam final at the French Open. A bacterial infection derailed her season after the US Open, and though she qualified for Singapore, Safarova hasn't played since, but with several weeks of practice in Doha, look for the defending champ to make some noise with her big lefty game.
5) Can Halep, Muguruza or Kvitova kickstart their years in Doha?
No.2 seed Halep has been looking for matches all season, but they were hard to come by in Dubai; the Romanian had to face former No.1 Ana Ivanovic in her opening round match, losing in straight sets. Muguruza has been dealing with a foot injury that has kept her from feeling prepared to play her best tennis, while Kvitova has won just one match all season and has yet to name a replacement coach since splitting the David Kotyza. All three have the talent to win in Doha; can one or more catch fire this week?
6) Azarenka does Acapulco.
While most of the game's biggest names are duking it out in Doha, Victoria Azarenka has opted to ease into her North American hardcourt swing by playing her first tournament since the Australian Open at this week's International event at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel. Top seed in Acapulco, Azarenka is joined by tricky opposition in Sloane Stephens, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, and Dominika Cibulkova.
7) Can Konta go further?
Johanna Konta rocked the tennis world when she made her historic run to the semifinals in Melbourne. A likely seed in Acapulco, how will the Brit back up that result as she aims to continue her march up the rankings; she is currently at a career-high ranking of No.27.
8) How will Sloane Stephens rebound?
Stephens came to Melbourne looking like a dangerous floater having won her second career title at the ASB Classic, but took a surprising first round loss to Wang Qiang. How will the American fare in her first event since then?
9) Welcome back, Galina.
Former World No.42 and No.1 Kazakh Galina Voskoboeva was close to a career-high ranking when multiple foot injuries kept her off the court for nearly two years. Playing her first matches earlier this month at Fed Cup and an ITF Challenger, Voskoboeva makes her WTA return in doubles this week with Anastasia Rodionova. Stay tuned for more insight into Voskoboeva's comeback on WTA Insider.