The opening round draw of the WTA St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy has thrown together two former champions, with 2017 doubles winner Jelena Ostapenko down to take on that year’s singles champion Kristina Mladenovic.
The Frenchwoman, who beat Yulia Putintseva to win the tournament two years ago in what remains her only WTA singles title, also reached last year’s final, losing to Petra Kvitova. Ostapenko partnered Alicja Rosolska to beat Darija Jurak and Xenia Knoll in a match tie-break; the former French Open champion also won an ITF Pro Circuit singles title at the Sibur Arena in 2015.
Czech Petra Kvitova is top seed for the tournament in Russia, coming off the back of her run to the final of the Australian Open, where she lost to Naomi Osaka. She has been handed a bye to round two, along with fellow top-four seeds Kiki Bertens, Daria Kasatkina and Aryna Sabalenka.
Other WTA draw highlights include Daria Gavrilova against home favorite Maria Sharapova, Maria Sakkari facing fifth seed Julia Goerges and Donna Vekic taking on Timea Bacsinszky while wildcard Victoria Azarenka will face a qualifier or lucky loser.
Sharapova will definitely have the advantage of the crowd support behind her as she heads into the tournament. After trouncing World Number 3 and 2018 Australian Open champion, Caroline Wozniacki, she slumped to a defeat to local favourite, Ashleigh Barty. She had lost in 3 sets to the Australian and was even booed off the court.
Now, she will be going up against another Australian, in the form of Daria Gavrilova. But this time, the tables are turned as it will be Sharapova with the home advantage. Hopefully, there will not be any instance of booing on the court.
Last year’s winner, Petra Kvitova defeated Mladenovic to take the crown. She will be eager to put her loss to Naomi Osaka at the Australian Open 2019, behind her and defend her title.