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(C) Alex Eala


Australian Open: Alex Eala crashes out in qualifiers

Alex Eala had a dream start to open her campaign in the qualifying rounds of the 2023 Australian Open.

Unfortunately, she was unable to sustain her momentum as she lost a big lead before succumbing to former world no. 30 Misaki Doi of Japan, 6-4, 6-7 (1-7), 3-6, on Monday.

Making her debut in a women’s grand slam singles event, the 17-year-old Filipina prodigy immediately buckled down to work and broke Doi right in the opening game of the first set. Eala raced to a 3-0 lead before the 31-year-old Doi finally got herself on the scoreboard and narrowed the gap at 2-3.

But Eala held serve the rest of the way to secure the first set.

Eala, who last year became the first-ever Filipino to win a junior grand slam singles title after copping the US Open, carried over her sharp form in the second set as she broke Doi thrice and stormed to a 5-2 lead.

Just when the Filipina appeared to have the match in the bag, the Japanese veteran seemingly woke up from her slumber and began stringing winners together to inch her way back into contention. Doi won four games in a row to regain the lead at 5-6 before Eala finally held serve to send the set to a tiebreak.

That was when the Japanese started to impose her will. Doi, who has made it past the first round of the main draw of all grand slams and has reached the 4th round of Wimbledon, dominated the tiebreak which she won handily.

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The deciding set seemingly was an extension of the previous tiebreak as Doi looked a step ahead of Eala and led the entire time to close out the match and move two rounds away from earning a spot in the main draw of the year’s first grand slam event.

It was a sorry loss for Eala who is currently ranked 214th in the world.

She was bidding to become the first Filipina to make it to the main draw of a singles grand slam event.

Treat Huey made the second round of the Australian Open and saw action in Wimbledon in 2022 in men’s doubles.

The last time a tennister from the Philippines played in the singles grand slam event was in 2002, when Cecil Mamiit made the second round of the French Open and the main draw of Wimbledon.

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