HUA HIN, Thailand - The WTA Tour's return to Thailand after a three-year absence with the inaugural Toyota Thailand Open presented by E@ is set to feature a number of tantalizing battles - not least the first-round clash between two of the most idiosyncratic players around, No.3 seed Hsieh Su-Wei and Monica Niculescu.
The Chinese Taipei player and the Romanian have both made careers out of bamboozling their fellow players - but have never faced each other until now. The intriguing question of what happens when two players simultaneously try to weave a spider web of slices and dropshots around each other is sure to be a must-watch. Hsieh in particular has fond memories of Hua Hin: in the tournament's former incarnation as a WTA 125K tournament, the 33-year-old was runner-up in 2017 to Belinda Bencic.
Elsewhere, No.1 seed Garbiñe Muguruza will open against 2013 Wimbledon runner-up Sabine Lisicki, with the No.197-ranked German competing via wildcard. Muguruza is projected to meet No.8 seed Dayana Yastremska in the quarterfinals - a rematch of their Luxembourg second round in October, which the 18-year-old Ukrainian took 6-2, 6-3 as part of an eight-match winning streak.
Another blockbuster first-round match finds No.5 seed Zhang Shuai, fresh off the Australian Open doubles title, take on the hard-hitting sole home representative, Luksika Kumkhum. The pair have split two previous meetings, both on Asian hard courts, and the winner could be on course to face Hsieh or Niculescu in the quarterfinals, followed by Muguruza or Yastremska in the semifinals.
Between 1991 and 2015, Thailand was a fixture on the WTA calendar, with the Pattaya tournament's roll of honor including names such as Conchita Martínez, Agnieszka Radwanska and Vera Zvonareva. There are no former Pattaya champions in this year's Hua Hin draw - but the final edition's runner-up, Ajla Tomljanovic, is back as the No.6 seed. The Australian opens against Stefanie Voegele, and is slated to face No.4 seed Zheng Saisai in the quarterfinals.
Rounding out the draw as the No.2 seed is Caroline Garcia, who has taken a wildcard here in a bid to kickstart her season. The Frenchwoman is yet to beat a player ranked inside the Top 200 in 2019, and will be tested in the second round by either Australian Open doubles runner-up Timea Babos or fast-rising Slovenian Tamara Zidansek.
HUA HIN 2019 DRAW
 Garbiñe Muguruza (ESP) vs. [WC] Sabine Lisicki (GER)
Mona Barthel (GER) vs. Fiona Ferro (FRA)
[WC] Shuai Peng (CHN) vs. Qualifier
Qualifier vs.  Dayana Yastremska (UKR)
 Su-Wei Hsieh (TPE) vs. Monica Niculescu (ROU)
Qualifier vs. Magda Linette (POL)
Anna Blinkova (RUS) vs. Yafan Wang (CHN)
Luksika Kumkhum (THA) vs.  Shuai Zhang (CHN)
 Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) vs. Stefanie Voegele (SUI)
Qualifier vs. Kateryna Kozlova (UKR)
Irina-Camelia Begu (ROU) vs. Evgeniya Rodina (RUS)
Mandy Minella (LUX) vs.  Saisai Zheng (CHN)
 Pauline Parmentier (FRA) vs. Qualifier
Viktorija Golubic (SUI) vs. Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP)
Tamara Zidansek (SLO) vs. Timea Babos (HUN)
Qualifier vs. [2/WC] Caroline Garcia (FRA)