WTA Insider David Kane | Zhuhai's top seed Johanna Konta reflects on a glittering season as she prepared to take on No.8 seed Samantha Stosur, who is with new coach Josh Eagle.
WTA Staff

ZHUHAI, China - Azalea Group action begins in earnest on Wednesday at the Huajin Securities Elite Trophy Zhuhai. Top seed Johanna Konta is fresh from her stint as first alternate at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, and the Brit admitted that Zhuhai already feels more like home.

"What can I say? I like China!" she joked with WTA Insider. "We get treated very well here; every hotel is always really beautiful, as is every venue. They really put a lot of effort into the immediate things that surround us as tennis players, the things we experience at every event.

"They definitely make us feel quite comfortable."

Konta had a chance to get comfortable on the first day of round-robin play in Zhuhai, fielding questions in All-Access hour that ranged from tennis to fashion - one in particularly about the dress she sported at Singapore's draw ceremony.

"I was not expecting that question!" she told reporters. "I'm very flattered. I do enjoy fashion. I do get some help though, so it's not all me. Thank you for noticing."

Johanna Konta

All eyes have been on the Brit as she blew the roof off her 2016 season with stellar performances, including one just three weeks ago at the China Open, where she reached the final.

"I still feel very much in this season, and I'm really happy and looking forward to playing my last event here in Zhuhai. I'm looking forward to stepping out on the court, competing finally.

"I like to be at events that I'm competing in, mainly!"

She'll certainly have to compete in her first match as she takes on No.8 seed and former US Open champion Samantha Stosur. The Aussie arrived a day earlier than Konta, allowing her more of a chance to explore the city.

"We've gone out for some great meals every single night," said Stosur. "I have an opportunity - by not playing tonight - to go out and see something else.

"Then, I'll probably just be busy with the tournament. But we've been very well looked after and it's been a very enjoyable week."

Samantha Stosur

It's been a stabilizing week for the former World No.4, who recently announced Josh Eagle as her full-time coach; the ex-ATP professional was with Stosur during the Emirates Airline US Open Series, and are together in Zhuhai for the first time since Flushing.

"I'm looking forward to starting the year with him, and hopefully getting a level of consistency with the people around me. That will help my game as well. There's never been a bad relationship with anyone I've had this year, but when you're chopping and changing all the time, it makes it difficult.

"If that's all in the past, then I'll be very happy next year!"

Stosur parted with longtime coach David Taylor after this year's French Open, where she earned her best Grand Slam result in four years by reaching the semifinals, and is looking forward to having a new voice to help her adapt to an ever-changing game.

"You can't say the one way you've done it for so long is the only way to do it. I think you have to be a little bit open to change or even just hearing new ideas.

"That's just different; I wouldn't say it's good or bad, but you have to get used to it when you've gotten set in your routines, the way you communicate with someone and how they might tell you to do something."

The up-ended routines have helped her in practice - Stosur says she's hitting as good as ever - and she hopes to use the week in Zhuhai to begin translating that onto the match court.

"Sometimes it only takes one or two matches and then you feel really good about things, and then, all of the sudden, you can get on a little bit of a roll. Who knows? I feel like I'm in a decent spot now; this is kind of a bonus extra tournament for all of us to be at, and given the Asian Swing that I had, it's probably a good thing to win a couple before I finish the year."

With one week left to the season, both women will be keen to end on a high note, which ought to inspire some scintillating tennis as they go head-to-head second on Zhuhai's Stadium court.

All photos courtesy of the WTA Elite Trophy.