Kontaveit experienced a transformation in form in the second half of last year under coach Dmitry Tursunov, winning almost all of his last 30 encounters, including two WTA tournament wins in Russia and Romania, and ranking seventh in the world, the first Estonian tennis player to break the top 10.
Zhang is currently ranked 60th in the world; the pair have met twice before, with the record of one win each – most recently Kontaveit, in 2019.
The Estonian is seeded fourth for the tournament, which will be played on the hard outdoor courts of the Sydney Olympic Park Tennis Center, behind local hero and world number one Ashleigh Barty, Garbine Muguruza (Spain) – who has defeated Kontaveit at the end of the Guadalajara tournament season finale last November – and Barbora Krejcikova (Czech Republic).
In total, seven of the top 10 players in the world are competing in Sydney, including Ons Jabeur, whom Kontaveit replaced at the eleventh hour by reserving a place at the Guadalajara tournament.
The Australian Open at Melbourne Park kicks off Monday, January 17.
The other Estonian tennis star, veteran player Kaia Kanepi, reached the second round of the WTA 250 Summer Set 1 competition, also in Melbourne, earlier in the week.
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