The San Diego Open is underway for its second year at the Barnes Tennis Center. With the Slam season over, players are left battling for points to qualify for the WTA Finals. In 2022, the Southern California tournament boasted a strong player field in its late October time slot but has seen some attrition in top-ranked players following the move to September this year. Coco Gauff, on the heels of her win in New York, pulled out of the tournament. World No.1 Iga Swiatek chose not to defend her title at the event and 2022 finalist Donna Vekic is also absent.
A win at this stage of the season could give a crucial boost to players still looking to qualify for the year-end championship. For top seed Ons Jabeur, who is currently eighth in the Race to the WTA Finals, and Jelena Ostapenko, who is twelfth, securing points from San Diego could prove vital to make the cut-off. After this week, there will be two more 500-level and two 1000-level events, alongside a handful of 125 and 250 tournaments. Caroline Garcia of France, the second seed at the tournament and 2022 WTA Finals title holder, is currently 25th in the Race.
Success in San Diego has the potential to provide some late-season confidence for Maria Sakkari after a disappointing US Open. The Greek is seeded third at the tournament and ranked ninth in the world, but is down to 15th place in the Race. The 28-year-old was devasted after her first-round exit from the final slam of the year and is riding the outpouring of love and support from her fans as she goes through the final tournaments.
The first seeded player to fall in San Diego was Belinda Bencic, who at fifth seed narrowly missed the cut-off for a bye. The 26-year-old Swiss lost her first-round match to Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-3 3-6 6-2.
The top four seeds will play their first matches in the round of 16, starting Wednesday.