Despite a rough start to the year, with first round exits in both Auckland and at the Australian Open, Williams has looked to be in better form on Fed Cup duty over the weekend, as she leads this new field.
She starts with a Taiwanese wildcard Lee Pei-Chi and could face compatriot Alison Riske by the time the quarter-finals comes around, but barring any injury concerns expect to see Williams reach the quarter-finals.
The feisty fist-pumper pulled off one of the big shocks of the Australian Open when she bounced Caroline Wozniacki out in the first round, before reaching the third round. In truth she could well be usurped by Zheng Saisai at the other end of the bracket – although she did not have as strong a run in Melbourne. The rest of the quarter is unpredictable with three qualifiers to make up the group.
Although Zarina Diyas is the seed in this quarter, her year has been a struggle. Having finished close to the Top 50 last year, she has struggled to maintain that, much less come close to her career high of 31 after Shenzhen early last year.
She, and Hsieh Su-Wei at the bottom of the bracket are both yet to string together back to back wins yet this season, so it might not be a surprise to see someone like Osaka come though and make an impact after her run through qualification to the third round of the Australian Open.
Another non-seeded pick, Pliskova, like Osaka, enjoyed a solid performance in Melbourne, battling through qualification to make it a couple of rounds, including a 9-7 battle in the deciding set against Monica Puig.
Misaki Doi  might rue the fact she held match point in the first round against eventual Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber but has not picked up a win at all season.
The Taiwan Open takes place between 8-14 February.
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