TASHKENT, Uzbekistan -- 2012 champion Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania leads a field of talented veterans and rising stars when the Tashkent Open kicks off on Monday.
No.1 seed Begu heads the draw as she returns to the site where she won the first of her four career WTA singles titles. World No.55 Begu opens against Ukrainian Kateryna Kozlova, a Tashkent quarterfinalist last year. Although Begu leads their head-to-head by 2-1, it was Kozlova who won their most recent meeting at the US Open last year.
Also in the top quarter, 2015 champion and 2016 finalist Nao Hibino opens against former World No.5 Eugenie Bouchard. Gunning for her third Tashkent final, Hibino has won her two meetings with Bouchard, both of which took place this summer, including an opening-round win in Hiroshima two weeks ago.
The winner of that match could face 2018 Bogota champion Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, the No.6 seed, in the second round.
The second quarter is anchored by seeds Stefanie Voegele and Dalila Jakupovic, but it is jam-packed with teenage phenoms. Last year's quarterfinalist Voegele meets 17-year-old qualifier Anastasia Potapova right off the bat; if Potapova can upset the No.4 seed, she could face fellow 17-year-old Olga Danilovic in the second round, which would be a rematch of the all-teenager Moscow River Cup final won by Danilovic earlier this year.
Looming in the same section is another player who Potapova and Danilovic know well from juniors, 16-year-old Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine. Kostyuk meets tricky Dutch left-hander Arantxa Rus in the first round.
The bottom half features a tough opening-round clash between rising 20-year-old Tamara Zidansek, the No.3 seed, and two-time Grand Slam finalist Vera Zvonareva. Slovenia’s Zidansek has been excellent in Challenger events this season, and has made a name for herself at WTA level, currently sitting at a career-high No.72 in the rankings.
But former World No.2 Zvonareva, who reached the semifinals in Tashkent last year, is rediscovering her top form, having recently qualified for the US Open before falling to Aryna Sabalenka in the second round in New York.
Another rising teenage star sits at the bottom of the draw, as 19-year-old Vera Lapko, one of four Belarusians in the Top 100, claims the No.2 seed. World No.66 Lapko just made the quarterfinals at Guangzhou last week, but has a dangerous first-round opponent in 2013 Tashkent champion and 2014 Tashkent finalist Bojana Jovanovski Petrovic, the former Top 40 player who is returning to the tour after injury woes.
Other players to look out for in the bottom half of the draw include No.5 seed Tatjana Maria, who won her first title in Mallorca this year, No.7 seed Evgeniya Rodina, who reached the second week of a major for the first time at 2018 Wimbledon, former Top 25 player Mona Barthel, and Ekaterina Alexandrova, who picked up her first Top 10 win over Jelena Ostapenko last week in Seoul.
TASHKENT OPEN 2018 DRAW
 Irina-Camelia Begu (ROU) vs. Kateryna Kozlova (UKR)
Fiona Ferro (FRA) vs. Jana Fett (CRO)
Nao Hibino (JPN) vs. Eugenie Bouchard (CAN)
[Q] Dejana Radanovic (SRB) vs.  Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (SVK)
 Stefanie Voegele (SUI) vs. [Q] Anastasia Potapova (RUS)
Olga Danilovic (SRB) vs. [WC] Anna Kalinskaya (RUS)
Marta Kostyuk (UKR) vs. Arantxa Rus (NED)
Anna Blinkova (RUS) vs.  Dalila Jakupovic (SLO)
 Tatjana Maria (GER) vs. Natalia Vikhlyantseva (RUS)
Sabina Sharipova (UZB) vs. Margarita Gasparyan (RUS)
[Q] Fanny Stollar (HUN) vs. Kurumi Nara (JPN)
[WC] Vera Zvonareva (RUS) vs.  Tamara Zidansek (SLO)
 Evgeniya Rodina (RUS) vs. Magdalena Frech (POL)
Mona Barthel (GER) vs. [WC] Nigina Abduraimova (UZB)
Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) vs. [Q] Ivana Jorovic (SRB)
Bojana Jovanovski Petrovic (SRB) vs.  Vera Lapko (BLR)