SHENZHEN, China - 2019 champion Aryna Sabalenka will begin her title defence at the Shenzhen Open against a qualifier. The Belarusian, 21, won last year's tournament with a three-set win over Alison Riske and will seek to retain her crown as part of the Australian Open preparations.

Top seed Belinda Bencic has been paired with Anna Blinkova, the World No.8 taking on the Russian for the first time as she bids for her fifth WTA singles title.

The season opener also includes World No.17 Elise Mertens taking on Lesia Tsurenko, seeking to avenge the defeat she suffered in her only previous meeting with the Ukranian, in s-Hertogenbosch in 2017.

Champions in photos: From Li Na to Sabalenka

US Open quarterfinalist and fourth seed Wang Qiang leads the home challenge as she takes on Tunisia's Ons Jabeur, while Wimbledon quarterfinalist Zhang Shuai faces Magda Linette.

Two-time Grand Slam champion Garbiñe Muguruza, seeded to meet Bencic in the last eight, takes on home hope Wang Xinyu, while 2017 champion Katerina Siniakova begins against fifth seed Ekaterina Alexandrova. Breakthrough star Elena Rybakina has been drawn against Zheng Saisai.

This year's event will be the eighth holding of the Shenzhen Open, and former victors include two-time Grand Slam champions Li Na (winner in 2013 and 2014) and Simona Halep (2015 and 2018). Li used her second title run here as a springboard to win the Australian Open three weeks later, while Halep's 2018 crown was followed by a final showing in Melbourne.

Click here to view the full Shenzhen Open draw.