INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA - 2015 BNP Paribas Open champion Simona Halep heads to the Indian Wells Tennis Garden as the top seed in singles, but unseeded in doubles alongside fellow Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu; should she take home both titles, the World No.1 will be awarded a $1 million bonus.
Halep has proven her doubles prowess in the past, finishing runner-up at the Rogers Cup with Monica Niculescu; defending champion Elena Vesnina partnered Ekaterina Makarova to defeat the Romanians that day, and are the top seeds this week in Indian Wells.
Makarova and Vesnina headline a tricky section that features Aussie sensations Daria Gavrilova and Samantha Stosur, with the winner to play one of two high-profile wildcard teams in Eugenie Bouchard and Sloane Stephens or Victoria Azarenka and Aryna Sabalenka.
Bouchard and Stephens reached the Citi Open final last summer as Stephens was making her way back to tennis following foot surgery, going on to win the US Open two months later. Azarenka has been off the tour since Wimbledon; in the meantime fellow Belarusian Sabalenka has been making waves on the WTA tour, making her first final at the Tianjin Open.
Reigning Australian Open champions Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic are Makarova and Vesnina's projected semifinal opponents in what would be a rematch of the championship match in Melbourne.
The bottom half of the draw boasts the reunion of Chan sisters Latisha and Hao-Ching. Latisha Chan finished the 2017 atop the WTA doubles rankings alongside the recently re-retired Martina Hingis, and began the new year with BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global champion Andrea Sestini Hlavackova.
Sestini Hlavackova is also using Indian Wells to unveil a new partnership, pairing with Romanian veteran Niculescu; the two will open against none other than Karolina Pliskova and sister Kristyna.
The Pliskova twins last played together back in 2016, and have a 3-1 record in finals as a team.