Eala soars to rank No. 185 ahead of Aussie Open

Eala soars to rank No. 185 ahead of Aussie Open

ALEX Eala is off to a good start.

The Filipina tennis sensation entered the New Year with a new career-best ranking ahead of her first big competition next week.

From No. 190 to end 2023, Eala soared to No. 185 for the opening rankings of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) days before her much-awaited return in the Australian Open.

The mark surpassed her previous career-high placing at No. 189 last October after two straight pro titles in Europe.

“Starting the year with a new career-high,” said Ms. Eala, a graduate of the Rafael Nadal Academy.

Out to pounce on the morale-boosting jump in the women’s pro circuit, Ms. Eala is in the thick of her preparations with a scheduled participation in Canberra International before the Australian Open in Melbourne starting on Monday. The 18-year-old ace earned a ticket in the qualifying draw last week with hopes of barging into the main competition after an early exit last year.

Ms. Eala, then a debutant in the Australian Open women’s singles after previously winning a juniors doubles title in 2020 with Indonesian pal Priska Madelyn Nugroho, bowed to Japan’s Misaki Doi in the opening round of the qualifiers.

At stake for Ms. Eala is a chance to slug it out against the likes of world No. 1 Iga Swiatek, world No. 2 and reigning champion Aryna Sabalenka, Naomi Osaka and Angelique Kerber, who headline the main draw slated on Jan. 14 to 28. Emma Raducanu, the 2021 US Open champion, meanwhile is also in the qualifying draw. — John Bryan Ulanday