MANILA – Alex Eala of the Philippines fell short against No. 14 seed Katharina Hobgarski of Germany, 4-6, 3-6, in the second round of the W100 Grodzisk Mazowiecki tilt in Poland on Wednesday.
The 17-year-old Filipino, with a career-high ranking of Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) World No. 280, was broken in the opening game of both sets.
Hobgarski, the 25-year-old WTA World No. 250, went on to take the early 2-0 lead in both sets as well.
In the first set, the German advanced to 4-2 after Eala’s forehand approach shot was called out.
Eala held serve, 3-4, with a forehand volley winner and secured a break point in the eighth game after forcing it to deuce with a forehand cross-court service return.
Hobgarski saved the break with a backhand down-the-line winner, 5-3, and Eala inched closer at 4-5 by saving a set point with a forehand down-the-line shot and forcing a netted forehand.
The German successfully served for the set, 6-4, after forcing a backhand return of serve error.
In the second set, Eala managed to level at 2-2 despite being down 0-30 in the fourth game.
Hobgarski broke back and held serve, 4-2, and Eala inched closer, 3-4, by saving a break point with a backhand cross-court passing shot and forcing a forehand error.
Just like what happened in the first set, Eala earned a crucial break point opportunity in the eighth game but failed to capitalize on it.
Her break point was cancelled by a forehand winner from Hobgarski, who fought on to be on the verge of victory, 5-3.
As Eala was serving to stay alive in her first International Tennis Federation (ITF) W100 tournament, she saved a match point after Hobgarski netted a forehand.
The German bounced back by gaining her second match point with a backhand down-the-line winner, and claimed the win, 6-3, after Eala hit a forehand long.
Their 90-minute match was held at Court 12 of the Akademia Tenisowa Tenis Kozerki, which has an outdoor hard court surface.
In the opening round, Hobgarski received a bye while Eala conquered qualifier Laura Svatikova of Slovakia, 6-4, 6-4.
Eala’s second-round result in Poland is her best finish to date in a $100,000 event on the ITF Women’s World Tennis Tour.
As for the W60 level, the Rafa Nadal Academy player settled for a runner-up finish in Madrid in June while on the W25 tier, she won the Chiang Rai championship in Thailand in April.
In 2021, the Filipino ace clinched her maiden professional title in the first leg of the W15 Manacor in Spain.
Eala, a recipient of the ITF Grand Slam Development Programme, has yet to join a W80 event.
On the WTA Tour, she posted a second-round finish in 2021 at the WTA 250 Cluj-Napoca in Romania, while at the WTA 1000 Miami Open in the United States in March, she had a first-round result as a wildcard.