The 2016 WTA season is officially underway with the first round of qualifying played in Brisbane’s Queensland Tennis Centre on Friday, kicking off the year’s first WTA Premier tournament.
Thirty-two players are fighting for their spot in the packed main draw, including well-known names such as Elena Vesnina & Daniela Hantuchova. The qualifying draw even has one of the event’s past champions, as 2012 Brisbane International winner Kaia Kanepi is among those trying to qualify for the main draw.
While Kanepi safely made it into the second round, following a three-set win over experienced Frenchwoman Virginie Razzano, the tournament already had it’s first upset on Friday as Belgium’s Ysaline Bonaventure kicked out 2012 Brisbane International finalist and former world number five Daniela Hantuchova.
While the qualifiers were out on the four courts, the tournament’s star players were busy preparing for their start into the tournament. Maria Sharapova followed up an extensive practice session inside Pat Rafter Arena with an All-Access media hour, while top seed Simona Halep was the guest of honor at the draw ceremony.
The draw, which was made with the help of the attending media members, produced some interesting results and the event’s packed entry list will lead to some cracking early match-ups. Maria Sharapova will play Ekaterina Makarova in the first round, a rematch of the 2015 Australian Open semifinal. Other very interesting early match-ups include Belinda Bencic’s match against Sara Errani and a possible duel between Simona Halep & Victoria Azarenka in round two.
Before it’s time for the first round action of the main draw, the final stage of qualifying has to be completed on Saturday. Keep checking back for all the latest tennis happenings in Brisbane!