Alex Eala in another early Australian Open exit

Alex Eala in another early Australian Open exit

ALEX EALA stumbled to another early exit in the Australian Open, absorbing a 6-2, 7-5 defeat against Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson in the first round of the qualifying draw on Tuesday at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne.

Ms. Eala, 18, got off to a slow start and not even a stronger outing in the second frame could put her over the hump against the 28-year-old Swedish ace.

The Filipina tennis wunderkind stood her ground in the opening salvo with only a 2-3 gap only to surrender the next three games as the 18th-seeded and WTA No. 128 Peterson banked on her crisp serves highlighted by six aces.

Ms. Eala, WTA No. 185, came out with guns ablaze in the second by taking a 5-4 cushion after breaking Peterson’s multiple serves but she once again ran out of steam in the clutch by yielding the last three games.

It’s the second straight first-round exit of Ms. Eala in the Australian Open qualifiers after a 6-4, 6-7, 3-6 defeat against Japan’s Misaki Doi last year that served as her debut in the women’s pro level.

She was a former junior doubles Grand Slam winner in the 2020 Australian Open with Indonesian pal Priska Madelyn Nugroho.

Ms. Peterson, with 14 titles in her career, will face Anastasia Zakharova from Russia in the second round for a shot at the finals of the qualifiers. Zakharova bested Belarus’ Jana Kolodynska in the other first-round pairing, 6-1, 6-3.

Only 16 slots are up for grabs in the 128-woman qualifying draw for the main draw of this year’s first major headlined by world No. 1 Iga Swiatek, world No. 2 and reigning champion Aryna Sabalenka, Naomi Osaka and Angelique Kerber among the few. — John Bryan Ulanday