The 2018 China Open, the final Premier Mandatory of the season, has a number of intriguing first-round matches, including a meeting between No.2 seed Caroline Wozniacki and former World No.7 Belinda Bencic.
Switzerland's Bencic ran off four consecutive defeats of Wozniacki in 2015 on her way to her career-high ranking, and leads their overall head-to-head 4-2 - but will be looking to snap a four-match losing streak dating back to New Haven, the week before the US Open.
Elsewhere, US Open champion Naomi Osaka will face a qualifier or lucky loser in her first event since a final-round showing at the Toray Pan Pacific Open. Osaka enters Beijing with a question mark over her health, as a viral illness kept Osaka from starting the preceding tournament in Wuhan.
If Osaka makes it into the second round, she could face 2015 runner-up Timea Bacsinszky, who has not won a WTA main draw match since Wimbledon 2017 due to an injury-ravaged year-and-a-half but who has rediscovered some form on the ITF Pro Circuit in recent weeks.
In press conference at the Wuhan Open the American Madison Keys commented on the US Open controversy involving Serena Williams and the chair umpire Carlos Ramos. Keys, who played 2017 US Open final losing to her compatriot Sloane Stephens, said: 'I think that the whole situation, it was extremely unfortunate that a match was going the way that it was going, especially for Naomi, to be playing so well, be in the final, then all of that to happen.
I was, like, the first words out of her mouth after she won her first Grand Slam were, I'm sorry. I felt so bad. I mean, it was just really sad watching it all unfold. Knowing Serena personally, I know that it felt like a very personal attack, as well.
So I think everyone was just, you know -- it was unfortunate, it was emotional. I think we can maybe look at past things and see how other situations were handled, specifically in the US Open, which kind of raises some eyebrows.
I think overall it was just a really unfortunate experience. I think we should probably look at it more closely and see if there is a bigger issue. If there is, it's something that needs to be addressed.' Asked how well she knows the Japanese Naomi Osaka, Keys replied: 'I don't know her very well.
Naomi Osaka is the third player to qualify for the 2018 BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore after French Open Champion Simona Halep and Wimbledon Champion Angelique Kerber. A breakthrough season for the Japanese, this will be the first appearance for Osaka at the Season Ending Championships, who also won her maiden WTA Trophy at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
She also went on a 10 match winning streak, winning the US Open and backing it up with a finals stint at home when she played the Toray Pan Pacific Open. She also bunched these impressive results with some healthy results elsewhere, reaching the round of 16 at the Australian Open, last four at the Nature Valley Open in Nottingham and the quarterfinals at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship “Qualifying for the WTA Finals is a huge accomplishment.
Winning the WTA Rising Stars Invitational in 2015 helped give me the confidence to play on the big stages so I am excited to go back to Singapore and compete with the top players of the season,” she said.
Osaka also created some history as she is just the third-ever player from Japan to qualify for the year-end event, and first in 15 years after Ai Sugiyama did so in 2003. Kimiko Date qualified three times for the season-ending event, with her best performance being a semi-final stint on her debut in 1994.