Following her surprisingly short stint in Wuhan last week, world No. 4 Maria Sharapova will attempt a better showing in Beijing, where she will begin her campaign against Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi. This marks the fourth time these two competitors will meet on the professional tour, with Sharapova holding an undefeated 3-0 record stretching back to the 2012 French Open.
The Russian superstar succumbed to Swiss qualifier Timea Bacsinszky in straight sets to go out before the quarter-final round in Wuhan. Sharapova fell 7-6(3), 7-5 in a match-up that saw the pair go back-and-forth affair for over two hours. Prior to that, she was coming off a fourth round exit at the US Open to eventual runner-up Caroline Wozniacki.
Sharapova will be looking to rack up as many ranking points as possible over the remaining weeks on the tour since she was sidelined throughout this portion of the season last year with a shoulder injury.
Following her fourth round loss to Serena Williams at the US Open, Kaia Kanepi moved on to Seoul, where she defeated Kulichkova and Pliskova before losing to eventual semi-finalist Maria Kirilenko.
Kanepi is yet to pick up her first ever victory over Sharapova. Her best performance came on hard court in their most recent encounter at the Brisbane International, where she won the opening set in the quarter-final before losing in the deciding set. While the Estonian is capable of another competitive encounter, it is unlikely she will be able to match Sharapova trademark resiliency.
Prediction: Maria Sharapova in Three Sets