MONTERREY, Mexico -- Former World No.1 Garbiñe Muguruza will try to defend her title while another former World No.1, Angelique Kerber, seeks to clinch an evasive championship at the 2019 Abierto GNP Seguros.
No.1 seed Kerber of Germany has reached the final in Monterrey in 2013 and 2017, but is yet to hoist the trophy of the hard-court event. The reigning Wimbledon champion's quest for a first Abierto GNP Seguros title will begin with a first-round match against a qualifier.
At the other end of the draw, No.2 seed Muguruza will attempt to retain the only singles title she won last season. Spain's Muguruza has to face another former Monterrey champion, 2016 titlist Heather Watson of Great Britain, in the opening round. It is the first meeting between Muguruza and Watson.
Kerber might have a challenging second-round match against crafty Czech Karolina Muchova. Muchova, increasingly close to a Top 100 debut that could come as early as Monday's new rankings, pushed Kerber to three sets in the second round of the Miami Open last week.
If the top seed can get past Muchova, she could potentially face No.6 seed Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium in the quarterfinals. Flipkens reached the Monterrey final in 2016, but she has a tricky first-round encounter with 18-year-old Olga Danilovic of Serbia. Danilovic claimed her first WTA singles title last year at the Moscow River Cup as a lucky loser.
No.3 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia leads the other quarter in Kerber's half of the draw. Pavlyuchenkova is a four-time champion of the event, winning in 2010, 2011, 2013, and 2017, and holding a staggering 22-2 record at the event overall.
If Pavlyuchenkova gets by her compatriot Anna Blinkova in the first round, she could face the fourth previous champion in the field, Hungary's Timea Babos, in the second round. Babos, the 2012 champion, also lost to Muguruza in last year's final.
Whoever emerges from that section might meet up with No.5 seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in the quarterfinals. Former World No.1 Azarenka, who plays Great Britain's Katie Boulter in the first round, is making her Monterrey debut.
In the bottom half of the draw, No.4 seed Alison Riske of the United States heads the third quarter. Riske has a tough opening-round encounter with her compatriot Sachia Vickery, who reached the semifinals at the Abierto GNP Seguros last year.
No.8 seed Magdalena Rybarikova also features in Riske's quarter. The 2017 Wimbledon semifinalist from Slovakia meets Misaki Doi of Japan for the first time in the opening round; Doi is coming off a second-round appearance in Miami as a qualifier.
In the bottom quarter, No.7 seed Kristina Mladenovic of France is slated as the seed opposite Muguruza. Former Top 10 player Mladenovic opens against a qualifier in the first round.
The home country will also have three Mexicans to cheer for in the main draw, as Renata Zarazua, Giuliana Olmos, and Victoria Rodriguez received wildcards.