Top Chinese players confirm Shenzhen Open entry

China's leading tennis ladies have confirmed their participation in the Shenzhen Open, as the official direct entry list is announced for the 500,000 US dollars WTA tournament, which takes place at the Shenzhen Longgang Sports Center from 29 December 2013, to January 4, 2014.

The official direct entry list consists of 24 of the 32 players - 17 teams will be represented. Besides China, the other teams with multiple entries are the Czech Republic, Germany, Spain and Slovakia.

"The tournament organizers are excited with the entry list," said Tournament Director Nick Freyer of IMG. "We recently announced that Li Na would be back to defend her title and that she would be joined by 2012 French Open finalist and 2013 Fed Cup heroine Sara Errani, along with two time Grand Slam finalist and former world No. 2 Vera Zvonareva. It's a great thrill to have two top-seven players in the draw.

"The tournament is touched by the support shown by China's players, Peng Shuai, Zhang Shuai and the nation's first ever Grand Slam semifinalist Zheng Jie, who is making her debut at the Shenzhen Open ."

Also returning to Shenzhen is the 2103 finalist Klara Zakopalova of the Czech Republic, who will be hoping to try and go one better than on her last visit. She and Li Na played a three thriller in front of a capacity crowd for the title earlier this year.

In addition, Monica Niculescu of Romania, Serbian Bojana Jovanovski and Annika Beck (Germany) have all committed to returning to Shenzhen, as has former top-10 ranked Shahar Peer of Israel. Monica made the semis and both Bojana and Annika reached the quarters."

In 2013 Zakopalova reached a career high ranking of 20, she was a semifinalist at Palermo, Bastad and New Haven and reached the last 16 at Indian Wells and Miami.

Following her Shenzhen semifinal effort this year, Niculescu won the title in Florianapolis, was a semifinalist in Monterrey and a quarterfinalist at Hobart and Washington DC.

Her good run in Shenzhen kick started a good year for Jovanovski who is at a career high ranking of 36 - she won events in Tashkent and Ningbo and twice upset Caroline Wozniacki. Once again she will celebrate her birthday in Shenzhen, on December 31.

At 19, Beck is one of the youngest players in the world's top 60. After her quarterfinal showing in Shenzhen she reached the final in Luxembourg and the semis in Katowice as well as the quarters at three other events.

Another young name to look out for is 20 year old Timea Babos from Hungary. In 2013 her aggressive style of play took her to the semis in Suzhou and the quarters in Budapest and Monterrey, where she upset Ana Ivanovic.

The tournament will also welcome back Chan Yung-Jan for singles and no doubt she will be working hard to defend the Shenzhen doubles title she won with her young sister, Chan Hao-Ching. The doubles entry list will be released by the WTA next month.

Adding to the mix of young names are others who have become more established players on the tour such as Canadian Aleksandra Wozniak and American Vania King.

The Shenzhen Open will have 24 direct acceptances into the main draw based on world rankings, with the balance made up of four qualifiers and three or four wild cards. The Chinese Tennis Association will announce further wild cards in the coming weeks.

The tournament takes this opportunity to welcome back a major sponsor, Yili dairy products. Yili is China's leading diary supplier with products that range from milk and yogurt to ice cream which has ranked No.1 in China for 19 consecutive years.

"We are delighted to have Yili, who are also a sponsor of Li Na, return as a tournament sponsor at a higher level this year and we value their support and association with tennis in China - and I know the players, led by Li Na and her team, and tournament staff enjoy their fine products as well," said Freyer.

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