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Sharapova set for another tough opener in Tianjin

The main draw for next week's Tianjin Open is out and top seed Caroline Garcia is set to face former No.1 Maria Sharapova in the first round.

Tournament snapshot:

Maria Sharapova's first appearance at the Tianjin Open could see her up against one of the hottest young talents of the season. WTA Insider breaks down the draw.
Top seeds: Caroline Garcia, Petra Kvitova, Peng Shuai, Donna Vekic.

Defending champion: Peng Shuai d. Alison Riske 7-6(3), 6-2.

Caroline Garcia vs. Maria Sharapova highlight the first round

Sharapova's string of tough first round draws continues in Tianjin, where she will face one of the hottest players of the fall Asian swing in Garcia. The Frenchwoman is 11-1 since the US Open, having made the quarterfinals at the Toray Pan Pacific Open, winning her first Premier 5 title at the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open, and currently battling it out at the China Open, where she ousted No.3 Elina Svitolina in over three hours to make her first Premier Mandatory semifinal.

Sharapova comes into Tianjin after losing in straight sets to soon-to-be No.1 Simona Halep in the third round of Beijing. It will be a full-circle match for Garcia, who burst onto the world stage by taking Sharapova to three sets in their first meeting at the French Open back in 2011. Sharapova is 4-0 against Garcia, with their last match coming in 2015 at the Madrid Open, where Sharapova prevailed 6-2, 4-6, 7-5.

Petra Kvitova chasing Zhuhai qualification

Kvitova has boosted her chances of returning to the WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai with her run to the semifinals in Beijing, where she is set to play Garcia later on Saturday. The Czech has once again found her best tennis in China, where in addition to shoring up her Zhuhai chances she's also working to ensure she'll be seeded at the Australian Open in January. There's a lot on the line for Kvitova and she needs to finish the year strong given she's defending points from a final in Luxembourg last year and the title in Zhuhai.

Kvitova opens against China's Zhu Lin in the first round.

Maria Sakkari looks to build on her breakout run in Wuhan.

The Greek talent broke into the Top 50 with her run to the semifinals of Wuhan as a qualifier, scoring good wins over Caroline Wozniacki, Elena Vesnina, and Alize Cornet. Success was a double-edged sword however, as her deep run ruled her out of qualifying for Beijing last week. But after a week off to rest up and continue her training sessions with new coach Thomas Johansson, she'll be looking to show her Wuhan run was no fluke. Sakkari opens against Liu Fangzhou.

Source: http://www.wtatennis.com/news/insider-analysis-sharapova-set-another-tough-opener-tianjin

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