The Asian swing is fully upon us. The ATP has left Europe behind for the next month, while the WTA has entered its season-ending homestretch in China. This week the men will get started with a couple of smaller events, as the top women arrive en masse for the first of their three fall showcases. Here’s a look at what we can expect at the four tournaments on tap.
Dongfeng Motor Open (WTA)
$2,828,000; Premier 5
Wuhan has drawn a crowd again. Seven of the WTA’s Top 10, and 15 of its Top 20 are gathered in Li Na’s hometown for the Dongfeng Motor Open, and its $2.8 million purse. The only major names missing are Naomi Osaka, Bianca Andreescu, and Serena Williams.
Those are significant absences, but there’s still a lot to watch for here. Can top seed Ashleigh Barty, a finalist here in 2017, regain some semblance of the early summer form that took her to No.1, and that has mostly gone missing since? Ditto for Simona Halep, who appeared to transform herself during Wimbledon, but who hasn’t won much since. Can Belinda Bencic build on her US Open momentum? Where does Petra Kvitova, winner here in 2014 and 2016, stand after an injury-plagued spring and summer? Can defending champion Aryna Sabalenka find the form that took her to the title here in 2018?
Sabalenka won Wuhan last year, and Caroline Garcia the year before that. Should the unexpected be expected again? We’ll see. For now, there should be plenty of early action to keep us occupied.
First-round matches to watch:
Sofia Kenin vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
Donna Vekic vs. Victoria Azarenka
Returning: Amanda Anisimova. The American, whose father passed away in August, will play Sam Stosur
Chengdu Open (ATP)
$1,213,295; 250 ranking points
Chengdu may be a warm-up for the bigger things that are to come in China—first in Beijing and then at the Masters 1000 in Shanghai—but is the draw here a little more interesting in its own right this time around? John Isner is the top seed, followed by Felix Auger-Aliassime, Benoit Paire, and Grigor Dimitrov. Also jetting in from Laver Cup, like Isner, will be Taylor Fritz and Denis Shapovalov.
Huajin Securities Zhuhai Championship (ATP)
$1,000,000; 250 ranking points
While much of Team World heads to Chengdu after Laver Cup, the top two seeds in Zhuhai—Stefanos Tsitsipas and Roberto Bautista Agut—will come from Team Europe. Only Nick Kyrgios, the sixth seed here, will cross over from Team World. Still, the story of the early rounds will be Andy Murray’s return to an ATP event in singles for the first time since Winston-Salem. The man who beat Murray there, Tennys Sandgren, will be his first-round opponent here.
Tashkent Open (WTA)
Viktoria Kuzmova is the top seed at the WTA’s other, much smaller event of the week, but No. 4 Jelena Ostapenko is the best-known name here.