Defending champion Jelena Ostapenko is projected to face Hiroshima winner Hsieh Su-Wei in the KEB Hana Bank Korea Open quarterfinals, while second seed Kiki Bertens has a tough opener in Luksika Kumkhum.
Alex Macpherson
September 16, 2018

SEOUL, Korea - No.1 seed Jelena Ostapenko will kick off her title defence at the KEB Hana Bank Korea Open against 2016 champion Lara Arruabarrena this week, and a projected quarterfinal against No.6 seed and brand new Hiroshima champion Hsieh Su-Wei will be particularly tantalizing to fans.

The pair have played once before, with the Chinese Taipei player triumphing 3-6, 7-5, 6-1 in the first round of the 2016 Australian Open, and if both make it to their allotted berths in the last eight the match will be a mouthwatering stylistic contrast between Ostapenko's all-out power and Hsieh's pace-free guile.

At the other end of the draw, meanwhile, No.2 seed Kiki Bertens has a tough opponent off the bat in Luksika Kumkhum, the hard-hitting Thai No.1 who reached the semifinals here last year - where she stretched Ostapenko to three sets.

Elsewhere, there's an intriguing first-round clash between two unseeded fan favorites seeking to rebuild their rankings as 2013 champion Agnieszka Radwanska takes on Bethanie Mattek-Sands. The Pole, who has had a lean 2018 marred by injury, saw her ranking dip out of the Top 50 this week for the first time since March 2007, while Mattek-Sands' return from the horrific knee injury she suffered at Wimbledon last year has found the No.377-ranked American compiling just a 2-10 record in singles so far this year. The winner of this tie is slated to face 2015 champion and No.7 seed Irina-Camelia Begu in the second round.

No.3 seed and San Jose runner-up Maria Sakkari will seek to make it three wins in three matches against 2015 semifinalist Anna Karolina Schmiedlova in the first round, while No.4 seed Magdalena Rybarikova will open against returning mother Mandy Minella. Former World No.41 Margarita Gasparyan, fresh off an impressive showing against Angelique Kerber at the US Open, will also continue her comeback from injuries; the Russian opens against a qualifier and could face the winner of the Sakkari-Schmiedlova tie in the second round.

There's also an intriguing first-round clash between Polona Hercog and Tamara Zidansek - the first all-Slovenian WTA match since Hercog's 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-3 defeat of Katarina Srebotnik in the second round of Portoroz in 2010. Rising 20-year-old Zidansek in fact owns a 1-0 head-to-head lead over her older compatriot, having beaten Hercog 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 in the semifinals of an ITF $25,000 event in Santa Margherita di Pula last year.

Two local players will be making their WTA main draw debuts via wildcard: promising 16-year-old Park Sohyun, fresh off her maiden ITF final in Yeongwol, and ITF stalwart Choi Ji-Hee. Park will face No.8 seed Kirsten Flipkens in the first round, while Choi opens against Stefanie Voegele.

KEB HANA BANK KOREA OPEN 2018 DRAW

[1] Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) vs. Lara Arruabarrena (ESP)
Johanna Larsson (SWE) vs. Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS)
[WC] Ji-Hee Choi (KOR) vs. Stefanie Voegele (SUI)
Qualifier vs. [6] Su-Wei Hsieh (TPE)
[4] Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK) vs. Mandy Minella (LUX)
Qualifier vs. [WC] Su Jeong Jang (KOR)
Polona Hercog (SLO) vs. Tamara Zidansek (SLO)
Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) vs. [5] Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL)
[7] Irina-Camelia Begu (ROU) vs. Qualifier
Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA) vs. Agnieszka Radwanska (POL)
Qualifier vs. Margarita Gasparyan (RUS)
Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (SVK) vs. [3] Maria Sakkari (GRE)
[8] Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) vs. [WC] Sohyun Park (KOR)
Evgeniya Rodina (RUS) vs. Qualifier
Dalila Jakupovic (SLO) vs. Qualifier
Luksika Kumkhum (THA) vs. [2] Kiki Bertens (NED)