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Qualifying play begins Saturday for the inaugural $757,900 San Diego Open WTA 500 women’s tournament, with 24 players from 11 nations seeking the six spots reserved for qualifiers in the 28-player singles main draw.

Liudmila Samsonova is the top-seeded player in qualifying and will face fellow Russian Varvara Flink on Saturday. Samsonova rose one spot to a career-best 22nd in the Women’s Tennis Association rankings released Monday after winning the $757,900 Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo on Sept. 25, her fourth career WTA title.

The 23-year-old Samsonova reached the fourth round of last month’s U.S. Open, matching her career-best performance in a Grand Slam. She also reached the fourth round of Wimbledon in 2021.

The 25-year-old Flink won her first WTA title in August, teaming with CoCo Vandeweghe to win the doubles at the Thoreau Tennis Open on Aug. 14 in Concord, Massachusetts. Flink gave birth to a daughter in November 2020 and returned to the tour in April 2021.

Saturday’s losers will receive $2,785 while the winners are guaranteed at least $5,410.

Qualifying play concludes Sunday with main draw play beginning Monday.

The main draw includes six of the top eight players, led by top-ranked Iga Swiatek, the 2022 French Open and U.S. Open champion.

The tournament received its name from the number of ranking points the champion receives. The WTA 500 tournaments are the fourth tier of tournaments on the main WTA Tour, after the four Grand Slam tournaments, WTA Finals and nine WTA 1000 tournaments.

City News Service