ST. PETERSBURG/TAIPEI - The first Grand Slam of 2017 is in the books, and the WTA tour turns to a pair of tournaments in St. Petersburg and Taipei. The St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy is a Premier-level event in its second year, while the Taiwan Open relocates from its inaugural location in Kaohsiung into the heart of Chinese Taipei.
Here's 10 things to know about the tournaments to come:
1. Simona Halep on the road to recovery.
Halep cited knee pain that carried over from the end of last season as a contributing factor to her Australian Open loss against Shelby Rogers, but will be back on court making her St. Petersburg debut. It won't be an easy week for the top seed, who will open against either big-hitting Ana Konjuh or tricky countrywoman Monica Niculescu.
2. Bencic & Kasatkina clash in Generation Next rematch.
A year ago, Belinda Bencic was on the cusp of a Top 10 debut and took out rising Russian Daria Kasatkina in straight sets in last year's St. Petersburg semifinal. This week, the pair will face off in the first round, with Kasatkina the No.8 seed and Bencic in search of form and match fitness following the string of injuries that beset her after her stellar start to 2016. Either woman could face Halep in the quarterfinals.
3. Venus backing up Oz Open run in Russia.
Venus Williams will be fresh off her thrilling fortnight Down Under, where she reached her first major final since 2009. Seeded No.4 in St. Peterburg, the American has a bye into round two, where she will face either a qualifier or Kristina Mladenovic. Defending champ Roberta Vinci looms as a projected last eight opponent.
4. Vinci headlines another St. Petersburg rematch.
For a fairly new tournament, St. Petersburg is already developing quite the penchant for repeat rivalries with Vinci set to face Timea Babos in the first round. The Hungarian youngster took the eventual champion to a final-set tie-break last year, and could be equally tough again on these indoor courts.
5. Russians headline the bottom half.
Two of the Top 5 seeds will be hometown favorites who could meet in the semifinals. No.3 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova will open her tournament against fellow Kremlin Cup finalist Daria Gavrilova or junior standout Anna Kalinskaya, while No.5 seed Elena Vesnina begins against longtime doubles partner Ekaterina Makarova.
6. Can Domi kickstart her season in St. Petersburg?
Dominika Cibulkova rounds out the draw as the No.2 seed and will be aiming to build momentum after a third-round loss at the Australian Open. The reigning BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global champion could play Jelena Ostapenko right out of the gate; the Latvian youngster nearly beat Karolina Pliskova in Melbourne.
7. Svitolina on song in Taipei.
Meanwhile, Elina Svitolina will end her Australian summer in Asia, opening against Evgeniya Rodina in her first match in Taipei. The Ukrainian took an early loss to an in-form Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in Australia, and will be on the hunt for an opening to make her Top 10 debut this spring.
8. Stosur seeks Aussie rebound.
Samantha Stosur will try and shake off a typically tough start to her season, where she went 0-3 at home in Australia, including a three-set loss to Heather Watson in Melbourne. Seeded No.2 in Taipei, the former US Open champion opens against Danka Kovinic, with Shenzhen Open champion Katerina Siniakova looming in the las eight.
9. Jankovic playing her way into 2017.
Jelena Jankovic struggled through an injury-addled season, but showed promise in a tough loss to Svetlana Kuznetsova at the Australian Open. Building more match toughness will be crucial for the former No.1, who is seeded No.8 and plays her first match against Japan's Kurumi Nara.
10. Chan Sisters roll into home tournament.
Kaohsiung was an emotional week for Chan Hao-Ching and Chan Yung-Jan a year ago; the sisters took the title and donated their winnings to the earthquake that had wreaked havoc on their home country. Back again as top seeds, the Chans open against countrywomen Hsieh Shu-Ying and Hsu Ching-Wen.
Get on the Road to Singapore to see who are amongst the top 8 in the first Leaderboard update!
This article was first seen on www.wtatennis.com.