The HP Open in Osaka is establishing a reputation as the site of monumental occurrences.
For instance, the 2010 staging featured the oldest-known final in WTA history, with then-33-year-old Tamarine Tanasugarn beating 40-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm. And at the 2012 staging, Heather Watson became the first British WTA titlist in 24 years.
Watson is back to defend her title this year, with 2009 winner Samantha Stosur the only other former champ in this year's draw. The Australian is often in good form here, having also been a runner-up in 2011 and semifinalist in 2012 en route to compiling a 14-3 record in Osaka.
The on-paper favorite is Sabine Lisicki, who comes in ranked 15th - her best ranking in over a year.
Osaka should be a great showcase for the future of the WTA, as its three highest ranked teens are all in the draw and are all seeded - Eugenie Bouchard, Madison Keys and Laura Robson. The 19-year-old Robson has an especially interesting opener against a player 24 years her senior - Date-Krumm.
In five previous appearances on Linz's indoor hardcourts, Ivanovic has compiled a 16-3 record while never failing to reach the quarters, highlighted by title runs in 2008 and 2010. She could be challenged right away, though, as her first round foe is 2009 Linz champion Yanina Wickmayer. The other former champion in this year's draw is Daniela Hantuchova.
No.1 seed Angelique Kerber will have plenty of motivation for a deep run, as she is in the running for a berth in the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships - Istanbul. No.2 seed Sloane Stephens and 2011 Linz runner-up Dominika Cibulkova are among the other title threats.
The on-paper favorites in doubles are Gabriela Dabrowski and Alicja Rosolska.