TOKYO, Japan - A stacked draw for next week's Toray Pan Pacific Open finds No.5 seed Sloane Stephens taking on Donna Vekic off the bat in a rematch of their first-round Wimbledon tilt - a stunning upset that saw the Croat dispatch the brand new Roland Garros finalist 6-1, 6-3.
The American, who lost her US Open crown last week with a quarterfinal loss to Anastasija Sevastova, has said that she is targeting redemption by aiming to play "as hard as [she] can" in the upcoming Asian swing - and a reprise of her most emphatic and early big-stage defeat will be an intriguing place for her to start. If she can avenge that loss, a potential second-round encounter with former World No.4 Johanna Konta awaits.
That's not the only blockbuster first-round encounter, though. No.8 seed Garbiñe Muguruza will aim to turn around a subpar second half of the season against former World No.7 Belinda Bencic, whose return from injuries this season has been a stop-start affair with flashes of brilliance interspersed with more physical setbacks. The pair's only previous meeting was also in Tokyo, in the 2015 quarterfinals, and was taken by the Swiss player 7-6(1), 6-1 en route to her third Premier final of that year.
Meanwhile, life has come at No.7 seed Ashleigh Barty and CoCo Vandeweghe fast: just a week ago, the pair were celebrating life as the newly-crowned US Open doubles champions together - but the Tokyo draw has been merciless in setting the friends and partners against each other. The Australian and the American will meet again in the first round, but this time as opponents - with a potential matchup against former World No.1 Victoria Azarenka lurking in the second round.
Talking of brand new Slam champions, this week also sees the glorious homecoming of US Open victor Naomi Osaka. New major winners can react in wildly varying ways to their new status: some, such as Venus Williams and Justine Henin, have gone on immediate tears, buoyed by their new confidence; others have taken some time to settle into their new expectations. Osaka will have a home crowd and past success to boost her - the 20-year-old reached her first WTA final here in 2016, a run that included a 6-2, 6-1 defeat of Dominika Cibulkova, her potential opening opponent this year. it will be fascinating to see which route she takes.
Stern tests also await defending champion Caroline Wozniacki, who is going for a hat-trick of consecutive titles (and a fourth overall) in Tokyo, No.2 seed Caroline Garcia and No.4 seed Karolina Pliskova. All have byes into the second round, but once there Wozniacki could face the hard-hitting Camila Giorgi, whom she has never beaten on hard courts; and Garcia will meet either last year's runner-up Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova or the rising Aliaksandra Sasnovich.
Pliskova, meanwhile, could take on none other than twin Kristyna in the second round for the 10th time in their professional careers - but first since 2013. The Czech sisters had been slated to meet in the first round of Prague in May before Karolina withdrew injured; this time, Kristyna will need to get past Daria Gavrilova first to set up the intra-family clash.
TORAY PAN PACIFIC OPEN 2018 DRAW
 [WC] Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) - Bye
Qualifier vs. Camila Giorgi (ITA)
[WC] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) vs. [WC] Kurumi Nara (JPN)
CoCo Vandeweghe (USA) vs.  Ashleigh Barty (AUS)
 Naomi Osaka (JPN) - Bye
Qualifier vs. Dominika Cibulkova (SVK)
Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) vs. Anett Kontaveit (EST)
Qualifier vs.  Barbora Strycova (CZE)
 Garbiñe Muguruza (ESP) vs. Belinda Bencic (SUI)
Qualifier vs. Qualifier
[WC] Kristyna Pliskova (CZE) vs. Daria Gavrilova (AUS)
 Karolina Pliskova (CZE) - Bye
 Sloane Stephens (USA) vs. Donna Vekic (CRO)
Qualifier vs. Johanna Konta (GBR)
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) vs. Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR)
 Caroline Garcia (FRA) - Bye