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Tough battle awaits Eala

Alex Eala knows that her campaign in the women’s division of the 2023 Australian Open will not be a walk in the park.

The Filipina tennis sensation admitted that while she enjoys getting back to where she won her first junior Grand Slam title, she knows that the battle that awaits her is tougher due to the superior quality of players.

“Of course, I have fond memories of Melbourne and the Australian Open as this is where I won my first Junior Grand Slam title alongside Priska Nugroho of Indonesia in 2020,” Eala, who is at No. 215 in the Women’s Tennis Association ranking, said.

“But coming here as a professional is not the same as coming here as a junior. I am just as excited, but this is a new journey for me. Unlike juniors, I am not one of the top-seeded players anymore and if I am going to feature in the main draw, I will have to fight.”

Eala will be entering the qualifying stages and will have to win three straight games in order to get through the main tournament.

Should she make it to the main draw, the 17-year-old netter will be pitted against world-class opponents such as world No. 1 Iga Swiatek of Poland, Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, Emma Raducanu of Great Britain and Filipino-Canadian Leylah Fernandez, who advanced to the final of the US Open two years ago.

In preparation for her debut in the women’s division of the Grand Slam, Eala joined the W60 Canberra International women’s singles event, where she lost to former doubles partner Oksana Selekhmeteva of Russia, 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, in the second round of the qualifiers on Monday.

Still, Eala remains optimistic over her chances.

“I have already played my first tournament this season, at W60 Canberra, where I reached the second round of qualifying. I expected the level to be high given we are building toward the Australian Open and I felt I played two good matches,” Eala said.

“I’m having a great time here in Melbourne as I continue preparations for Australian Open qualifying, which gets underway on Monday. It will be a career first for me as I have never previously contested Grand Slam qualifying and, to be honest, I am over the moon to be fighting for a place in the main draw of a major tournament.”

The Rafael Nadal Academy, where Eala is training, wishes her the best of luck in the Australian Open, which is considered as the most competitive tennis tourney in the world together with the US Open and the Wimbledon.

“Three years after winning the Australian Open junior doubles, Alex Eala is ready to play her first Grand Slam in Melbourne! Good luck! VAMOS!!” the academy posted on its social media page.

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