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Unseeded megastars, Osaka’s return, Sakkari top seed – three things to know about next week’s Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose

The stacked 32-player draw in San Jose features four former Grand Slam champions, and lots of dangerous unseeded entrants.

Naomi Osaka of Japan talks to the media at the 2022 Miami Open WTA 1000 tennis tournament Naomi Osaka of Japan talks to the media at the 2022 Miami Open WTA 1000 tennis tournament Image Credit: Zuma / Panoramic

The draw is set at San Jose, for the first – and only – 500-level WTA hard court event in North American prior to the US Open, and it is stacked!

Here are three storylines that we are watching ahead of this year’s event.

WTA San Jose | DRAW

The seeds (and their rankings)

1. Maria Sakkari (No.3)
2. Paula Badosa (No.4)
3. Ons Jabeur (No.5)
4. Aryna Sabalenka (No.6)
5. Garbiñe Muguruza (No.8)
6. Coco Gauff (No.11)
7. Daria Kasatkina (No.12)
8. Karolina Pliskova (No.15)

Osaka returns, and her first match is going to be tough

Excitement brews every time Naomi Osaka steps on a hard court. She’s won all four of her Grand Slam titles on the surface and the last time she played on it, she was into the final at Miami, where she fell to Iga Swiatek.

Osaka has a win-loss record of 101-26 on hard courts since the start of the 2018 season.

So what will the summer look like for Osaka, now that she is returning from the Achilles injury that forced her to miss Wimbledon?

We know she’ll be tested right away. The world No 40 has drawn China’s Qinwen Zheng in the first round. Zheng has made waves on tour in 2022, reaching the round of 16 at Roland-Garros and the third round at Wimbledon – and she’s just 19.

It promises to be a heavy hitting affair, as both possess grip-it-and-rip-it power.

Side note: Osaka made her first main draw appearance at this event in 2014, when it was held up the freeway in Stanford.

The Wimbledon champ – unseeded?

Elena Rybakina will take the court for the first time since winning the Wimbledon title a few weeks ago. The 23rd-ranked Kazakh is one of many unseeded stars in the draw, and she’ll face Russia’s Daria Kasatkina, the No 7 seed, in the opening round.

Rybakina is 28-12 on the season with three titles to her name.

Other unseeded former Grand Slam champions in the draw – Osaka and Bianca Andreescu, who faces Shelby Rogers in her opening match.

The other Grand Slam champion, Garbine Muguruza of Spain, is seeded fifth, and will face Camila Giorgi in her opener.

Jabeur looking to make a dent on hard courts

Ons Jabeur lived a dream at Wimbledon, where she became the first woman from Tunisia to reach a Grand Slam final. The fifth-ranked 27 year old will bid to expand her influence to the hard courts this summer. She is 8-5 on hard courts for the season. Jabeur, who has a first-round bye, will face either Madison Keys or Zhang Shuai in the second round.

The Tunisian has won two titles in her career – one on grass, one on clay and zero on hard.

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