The main draw for next week's Tianjin Open is out and former No.1 Maria Sharapova will play No.9 seed Irina-Camelia Begu in the first round - following the withdrawal of top seed Caroline Garcia.
To see the full singles draw, click here.
Top seeds: Petra Kvitova, Peng Shuai, Donna Vekic.
Defending champion: Peng Shuai d. Alison Riske 7-6(3), 6-2.
Irina-Camelia Begu vs. Maria Sharapova highlight the first round
Sharapova's string of tough first round draws was set to continue in Tianjin, where she initially drew of the hottest players of the fall Asian swing in Garcia. The Frenchwoman is 13-1 since the US Open, having made the quarterfinals at the Toray Pan Pacific Open, won her first Premier 5 title at the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open, and capped off the Great Haul of China with another title in Beijing, knocking out Elina Svitolina, Petra Kvitova, and Simona Halep in succession.
Sharapova comes into Tianjin after losing in straight sets to soon-to-be No.1 Simona Halep in the third round of Beijing. Garcia's withdrawal means she instead gets No.9 seed Irina-Camelia Begu, who has won just one main draw match since capturing her home title in Bucharest. Sharapova leads this head-to-head 2-0, winning their most recent match back in 2015 at Wimbledon.
Petra Kvitova chasing Zhuhai qualification
Kvitova has boosted her chances of returning to the WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai with her run to the semifinals in Beijing, where she is set to play Garcia later on Saturday. The Czech has once again found her best tennis in China, where in addition to shoring up her Zhuhai chances she's also working to ensure she'll be seeded at the Australian Open in January. There's a lot on the line for Kvitova and she needs to finish the year strong given she's defending points from a final in Luxembourg last year and the title in Zhuhai.
Kvitova opens against China's Zhu Lin in the first round.
Maria Sakkari looks to build on her breakout run in Wuhan.
The Greek talent broke into the Top 50 with her run to the semifinals of Wuhan as a qualifier, scoring good wins over Caroline Wozniacki, Elena Vesnina, and Alize Cornet. Success was a double-edged sword however, as her deep run ruled her out of qualifying for Beijing last week. But after a week off to rest up and continue her training sessions with new coach Thomas Johansson, she'll be looking to show her Wuhan run was no fluke. Sakkari opens against Liu Fangzhou.