SHENZHEN, China - Maria Sharapova and Simona Halep were kept apart on Saturday as they discovered who they will open their seasons against in Shenzhen next week.
World No.1 Halep, top seed in the China tournament, will begin her campaign against American Nicole Gibbs, while five-time Grand Slam champion Sharapova takes on Romania's Mihaela Buzarnescu. Halep and Sharapova played out a thrilling US Open match in September but any rematch of that will have to wait until the final.
Sharapova is joined in the bottom half of the draw by second seed Jelena Ostapenko, who was drawn with Kristyna Pliskova in the first round.
Third seed and home favorite Zhang Shuai takes on a qualifier, while Irina-Camelia Begu, seeded fourth, will face another Chinese, Liu Fangzhou. Defending champion Katerina Siniakova opens against Tunisian Ons Jabeur, with Monica Niculescu taking on Aryna Sabalenka.
Halep, champion in 2015, needs to win the tournament again to ensure she remains World No.1 ahead of the Australian Open, which starts in a fortnight's time. Garbiñe Muguruza and Caroline Wozniacki can take advantage and move to the summit should Halep fail to win the title in China.
Read more: Shenzhen Day 1 - Order of Play