Hong Kong - Seven-time Grand Slam winner Venus Williams on Monday said Garbine Muguruza can "keep going higher" after she soared to fourth in the world rankings after victory at the China Open.
Williams, 35, beat the 22-year-old Spaniard when she retired from this month's Wuhan Open title match, but she said the Wimbledon finalist had the talent to keep rising.
"She really has so much talent -- she can keep going higher," Williams told reporters ahead of her campaign at this week's Hong Kong Open.
The physically imposing Muguruza downed Timea Bacsinszky 7-5, 6-4 in Beijing on Sunday to win the biggest title of her career. Afterwards, she said she had designs on becoming world number one.
However Muguruza, who has also qualified for the year-ending WTA Finals in Singapore later this month, has dropped out of the Hong Kong Open with an ankle injury -- clearing a big obstacle for Williams.
The American is currently 11th in the wide-open Road to Singapore rankings, but she still has a chance of reaching the eight-player season finale.
"The field is really deep, there is a lot of top players but I feel like I have a good opportunity," Williams said Monday ahead of her first-round match against Ukrainian lucky loser Yuliya Beygelzimer.
Also on Tuesday, world number 10 Angelique Kerber will take on former French Open winner Francesca Schiavone, and ex-world number one Jelena Jankovic plays Romanian qualifier Ana Bogdan.
Monday's first-round matches saw Spain's Lara Arruabarrena, Lee Ya-hsuan of Taiwan and Puerto Rican Monica Puig safely reach the next round.