Alex Eala fails to reach Australian Open main draw
MANILA, Philippines — Alex Eala’s first Grand Slam stint as a professional only lasted for one game as she fell short against Misaki Doi of Japan, 6-4, 6(1)-7(7), 3-6, in the first round of the 2023 Australian Open qualifiers on Monday in Melbourne.
The Rafael Nadal Academy scholar missed the main draw.
After a strong opening set win, the 17-year-old Filipino dominated the second frame with a 5-2 advantage and moved on the verge of reaching the second round of the qualifiers.
However, the 31-year-old Doi, ranked No.172 in the Women’s Tennis Association, displayed grace under pressure and scored four straight games before Eala forced a tiebreaker.
But Eala’s Japanese foe couldn’t be stopped, taking full control of the tiebreaker, 7-1, to force a deciding third en route to the come-from-behind win in two hours and 37 minutes.
Doi faces Laura Pigossi of Brazil in the second round of qualifiers on Tuesday.
Eala debuted in the Australian Open three years ago as a junior competitor, winning the girls doubles championship with Priska Nugroho.
The Filipino prodigy came off a historic 2022, becoming the country’s first Grand Slam singles champion in the US Open girls singles tournament.
Eala started the year with second-round exit in the qualifiers of the W60 Canberra last week.
She will compete next in the W250 Thailand Open starting on January 30, eyeing her third pro crown.