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Serving up some sizzle in Zhuhai

By Sun Xiaochen | China Daily | Updated: 2018-10-25 09:41
From left: Spain's two-time Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza, defending champion Julia Goerges of Germany, 2017 US Open runner-up Madison Keys, world No 18 Caroline Garcia of France and Chinese stars Wang Qiang and Zhang Shuai all feature in an impressive field for the WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai, which starts on Oct 30. XINHUA

Red-hot Chinese aces Wang Qiang and Zhang Shuai aiming to cap superb campaigns with home glory in season-ending tournament

China's Wang Qiang and Zhang Shuai will bid to cap their fine seasons with some home glory at next week's WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai.

The fourth edition of the prestigious season-ending event takes place from Oct 30 to Nov 4 at Hengqin International Tennis Center in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, where 11 of the world's top 20 players, plus one wild card, will battle it out in the singles.

The world's top eight are competing at the ongoing WTA Finals in Singapore, while the decisions of Serena Williams and Jelena Ostapenko to end their seasons early mean 22nd-ranked Wang has qualified directly for Zhuhai thanks to her fine run on the tour's Asian swing.

The 26-year-old has won two WTA titles this season, in Nanchang and Guangzhou, reached the semifinals in Wuhan and Beijing and was runner-up in Hong Kong.

Wang's qualification made the wild card available to world No 36 Zhang, whose 2018 campaign also took off during the tour's Asian excursion.

The 29-year-old made the last four in Hiroshima and Hong Kong before storming into the quarterfinals at the China Open in Beijing.

This marks the first time two homegrown players have appeared in the singles draw since the tournament debuted in 2015.

"I am very excited to be able to join such an elite group of players at the Zhuhai tournament," said Wang, who has made steady progress under Australian mentor Peter McNamara this season.

"I will try my best to become the first Chinese to lift the trophy in Zhuhai and hopefully everybody will enjoy the show."

Recalling her 2016 effort when she reached the semis in Zhuhai, Zhang was also psyched to return to the state-of-the-art venue in the city's Hengqin New Area, which is now linked by bridge to Macao.

"The memories are still fresh so I can't wait to enjoy the enthusiastic fan support there," said Zhang.

The Chinese duo, who both hail from Tianjin, will face stiff competition from some of the game's biggest names, including Spain's two-time Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza, 2017 US Open runner-up Madison Keys and defending champion Julia Goerges of Germany.

"I have great memories from last year when I won my biggest career title, and I just remember all the great support I got there especially from the locals," said Goerges, who beat American CoCo Vandeweghe in straight sets in last year's final.

The quality of the field is underlined by the fact that the players have won a total of 14 WTA singles titles between them this year.

"We are extremely happy with the list of players that have qualified to play," said tournament director Jose Miguel Garcia.

"The two Chinese players in the singles draw for the first time shows how fast tennis is developing in China.

"All the players that have qualified are among the best in the world, so great tennis is guaranteed for all the fans coming to Zhuhai and everyone watching from home all over the world."

The tournament, which features a round-robin format before players advance to the knockout stage, offers total prize pool of over $2.3 million this year and 700 ranking points for the singles champion.

In addition to the roof-covered, 5,000-seat central court, the tournament venue features four show courts and 12 practice courts.

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