SHENZHEN, China - The Shenzhen Gemdale Kaisa Open made a sparkling debut on the WTA this year, with homegrown champion Li Na winning the inaugural edition of the event. And another all-star line-up will be there in 2014, it was announced at a press conference in Shenzhen earlier this week.
Li, who will be back to defend her title at the $500,000 event, sent a special message from Istanbul.
"Ni Hao and greetings Shenzhen. As defending champion, I am happy and excited to be starting the season once again in Shenzhen. Me and my team really enjoyed our stay at the inaugural tournament this year. The stadium, hotel, organization and food were all top class and the people were most welcoming to me. I am proud that a first year tournament in my home country could be such a success, and I hope the tournament continues to grow and that I can play good tennis again for you all in January. Congratulations to the Shenzhen Gemdale Kaisa Open and see you soon."
Ke Gangming, Inspector of Shenzhen Municipal Bureau of Culture, Sport and Tourism, said: "Having Li Na at a tournament is always a plus; her popularity remains incredibly high and we are thrilled to welcome her back. We are also very pleased to say that World No.7 Sara Errani, the 2012 French Open finalist, will be joining us, as well as former Grand Slam finalist and World No.2 Vera Zvonareva."
Errani also sent a message: "Ciao Shenzhen, I am happy to be starting 2014 in your city. I have heard many good things about your tournament in China; including you have very good pizza and pasta for the players! Good food is important to Italian people. I'll see you soon and will train hard in December so that I can play my best and make a strong result at the Shenzhen Gemdale Kaisa Open. Ciao!"
Zvonareva, who made her first two Grand Slam finals at Wimbledon and the US Open in 2010, and did make it as high as No.2 that year, has been out of action for over a year because of illness and injury.
"I am excited to be playing my first matches of 2014 in Shenzhen," Zvonareva said. "You may know I had shoulder surgery in 2013 and was off the tour most of this season. I am looking forward to playing many matches in 2014 and to being fully fit and healthy, and I am happy that Shenzhen, Longgang and IMG have made it possible to play in your tournament, which I heard is a very high quality event."