Doha, Qatar: Former World No.1 stars Simona Halep, Karolina Pliskova and Angelique Kerber will continue their intense battle for supremacy, but Elina Svitolina could prove to be a dangerous customer at the Qatar Total Open starting on Monday.
Top seed Halep lost her World No.1 ranking to new sensation and Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka in Melbourne and the Romanian is intent on grabbing it back.
Halep withdrew from the semifinal match against Garbine Muguruza last year in Doha but the 2014 champion, who has a new coach in Thierry van Cleemput, would be keen to win his second title in the Qatari capital.
Standing firmly in her way is Pliskova, who herself had a great chance for a shot at the world No.1 ranking last month before Osaka made it her own.
Pliskova is one of the crowd favourites in Doha and will surely be a tough proposition.
Kerber, a finalist in Doha in 2014, still is every bit a contender even though she is 31 now.
“I came a little bit earlier to get ready for this tournament and to get used to the courts, to the weather, conditions and everything,” said Kerber.
“I'm trying to iimprovemy tennis every day and trying to playing every year better and better.
The three-time Grand Slam champion said she still can improve upon her game.
“For me, it's important now to enjoying my tennis. I think if everything came together, I can still playing better, playing the same, and, you know, it's always important to improving, improving my tennis. This is what I'm trying to do.”
Svitolina holds a lot of promise and has plenty of time in her side to fulfil it.
Svitolina said she had not thought about coming to Doha but obliged when she was offered a wild card after the pull out of Osaka.
“Well, yeah, I didn't plan to come here. I thought I'd have some more rest. But I was ready, I think, a little bit earlier. I always remember coming here with good memories, so it was a decision last minute,” said Svitolina.
The 24 year old said she was not 100 per cent at the Australian Open and was struggling with her neck and shoulder, but promised to give her all.
“I always have high goals for each tournament I set for myself. Any tournament that I play, I always try to win it, to give everything what I have and to fight for every match, you know, every point,” she said.
“So for me, I try to just stay focused each match. Of course, there is expectations when you are high seed that you'll play well, that you'll go far in the tournament, but, you know, I'm sure that everyone has that, and it's just a part of being high seed. You know, it's kind of a good pressure to have, but in the Wozniacki same time, you have high expectations.”
Another former World No.1 Caroline has gone off the boil in the last few weeks dropping from third to 10th in the rankings, but she has the game and the attitude to challenge anyone.
And the likes of Kiki Bertens, Ashleigh Barty, and Anastasija Sevastova can beat anyone on their day.