ACAPULCO, Mexico - No.1 seed Sloane Stephens, returning to action for the first time since the Australian Open, is the only former winner in this year's Abierto Mexicano TELCEL presentado por HSBC draw, and opens her campaign against Istanbul and Québec City champion Pauline Parmentier for the second year in a row.
The American took home her third career title in Acapulco in 2016 and owns a 3-1 head-to-head lead over Parmentier, including a 6-4, 6-0 opening win here last year en route to the quarterfinals. Two-time defending champion Lesia Tsurenko has opted against going for a hat-trick of Mexican sombreros; 2012-13 winner Sara Errani and 2015 victor Timea Bacsinszky are both competing in the Indian Wells 125K instead, while 2014 champion Dominika Cibulkova is taking the week off.
The bottom half of the draw is highlighted by a tantalizing first-round clash between No.2 seed Danielle Collins, fresh off her maiden Grand Slam semifinal at the Australian Open, and former World No.1 Victoria Azarenka. The pair have only met once before, in last year's San Jose quarterfinals - and it was a tightly contested match cut short in unfortunate fashion when a back injury forced Azarenka to retire while leading 7-6(4), 0-3. The winner faces a potential second-round tilt against last year's runner-up Stefanie Voegele.
The two breakout teenagers of the Australian swing also return to action in Mexico this week. 18-year-old Auckland runner-up Bianca Andreescu opens against wildcard Jil Teichmann, with the winner to take on either No.4 seed Mihaela Buzarnescu or Daria Gavrilova. The latter clash is guaranteed to belatedly kickstart one player's season: Gavrilova has lost all five of her matches in 2019 so far, while Buzarnescu is still languishing on an 11-match losing streak dating back to the Romanian's unfortunate ankle injury in Montréal last August.
Meanwhile, 17-year-old Amanda Anisimova, playing for the first time since her run to the Australian Open fourth round, will get started against a qualifier, with a potential second-round date against either No.8 seed Johanna Konta or former World No.27 Laura Siegemund awaiting.
Three further seeds face opposition to whom they have a losing record in the first round: No.3 seed Donna Vekic, No.5 seed Sofia Kenin and No.6 seed Maria Sakkari were all defeated by Misaki Doi, Rebecca Peterson and Monica Puig respectively in their only previous meetings. Peterson in particular is returning to a venue that holds fond memories: the Swede notched up her maiden WTA semifinal showing here last year, a run that spearheaded a rise to her current position on the brink of the Top 50.
The winner of Peterson's clash with Hobart champion Kenin is projected to face either Collins or Azarenka in the quarterfinals, while Vekic has landed in Konta and Anisimova's quarter. The victor of the tilt between Sakkari and Puig must then navigate past either Shenzhen semifinalist Wang Yafan or 2014 US Open junior champion Marie Bouzkova to seal a projected last-eight spot against Stephens.
ABIERTO MEXICANO TELCEL PRESENTADO POR HSBC 2019 DRAW
 Sloane Stephens (USA) vs. Pauline Parmentier (FRA)
Qualifier vs. Qualifier
Yafan Wang (CHN) vs. Marie Bouzkova (CZE)
Monica Puig (PUR) vs.  Maria Sakkari (GRE)
 Donna Vekic (CRO) vs. Misaki Doi (JPN)
Qualifier vs. Qualifier
Amanda Anisimova (USA) vs. Qualifier
Laura Siegemund (GER) vs.  Johanna Konta (GBR)
 Saisai Zheng (CHN) vs. [WC] Renata Zarazua (MEX)
Timea Babos (HUN) vs. Dalila Jakupovic (SLO)
[WC] Jil Teichmann (SUI) vs. Bianca Andreescu (CAN)
Daria Gavrilova (AUS) vs.  Mihaela Buzarnescu (ROU)
 Sofia Kenin (USA) vs. Rebecca Peterson (SWE)
Katie Boulter (GBR) vs. Qualifier
Tatjana Maria (GER) vs. Stefanie Voegele (SUI)
[WC] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) vs.  Danielle Collins (USA)