Bali: Top seed Li Na of China and Japanese veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm will face eachother in the opening round of the Bali Tournament of Champions after Tuesday’s draw.
Li and Date-Krumm will meet for the first time on the indoor hardcourt laid down in a hotel ballroom on the Indonesian resort island.
Li, a winner this summer on grass in Birmingham, United Kingdom, stands just outside a top ten ranking while Date-Krumm is 40th on the list.
The Japanese player, who is 40, just missed out on a dream title last month at home when she was beaten in the Tokyo final by Thai Tamarine Tanasugarn.
In 2009, Date-Krumm won a trophy in Seoul after more than a decade out of the game and played the Bali semi-finals a year ago, losing to France’s Marion Bartoli.
The event pits the winners of WTA International-level events and was changed this time round to a single knockout format.
“I’ve practised with Kimiko a lot but never played her,” said Li. “These top events all have tough draws, this is another challenge for me.
“We’ll see what happens on the court. Bali is beautiful, but still there is a fight on the court.”
Date-Krumm will be trying to go two matches better at her second Bali appearance. She said the opening showdown with her regional rival was just bad luck.
“There are only two players from Asia here and we didn’t want to play each other (so early)’ she said. “But that’s the way it goes.
“I’m looking forward to it. She’s a tough player, hits the ball hard and is fast around the court. I”ll just go out there and try my best.”
Holder Aravane Rezai, second seed after winning in 2009 when Bartoli quit injured after the first set, starts with one of two Russians in the eight-woman field, Alisa Kleybanova.
Number three Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia will be the first test for marquee name Ana Ivanovic as the Serb tries to further her comeback after lifting her ranking form 65th to 24th this season.
The 2008 Roland Garros winner split this week with Swiss coach Heinz Gunthardt, who could not work with her full-time.
Returning Belgian Yanina Wickmayer, seeded fourth, faces Slovak Daniela Hantuchova, a Bali regular in the day when the event was a September stop on the WTA regular circuit.
“There are no easy opponents here,” said Ivanovic, “But it will be fun.
“We’re all looking forward to playing, and since there are only only two matches per day it’s pretty relaxed. I think everyone will have a good time and produce some good tennis at the same time,” said the player who started her morning with a spa treatment in the tropical surrounds.