Cody Wong became the first player from Hong Kong to reach the Australian Open girls’ singles quarterfinal after she beat Asian No. 2 and fourth seed Alexandra Eala of the Philippines in straight sets, 6-1, 6-3, at Melbourne Park. However, the local ace was denied a place in the semifinals following a 6-4, 6-2, defeat to Poland’s Weronika Baszak, who went on to reach the final.
“I had a chance to make the Australian Open semis, so I’m super disappointed. I had the early lead but then lost my way and let her back in,” lamented Cody. “I couldn’t get my serve going and started to land my groundstrokes too short. She took advantage of it and she’s got a really good serve that’s tough to break.”
“I don’t really think about expectations or pressure or any of that stuff. I just try to focus and play my game and take it match by match. But now, more and more people ask me about these things, especially the media,” said Cody.
Earlier in the third round, Cody broke No. 4 seed Alexandra Eala of the Philippines seven times and smacked 16 winners to win, 6-1, 6-3.
“I played pretty steady. I tried to go for every shot and it just went the way I wanted today,” said Cody following her victory. “But she did make a lot of mistakes.”
The highly-touted Eala won the prestigious Les Petit As, a tournament that features the world’s best under-14 players, in 2018 when she was just 12 and she was a finalist at the Junior Orange Bowl for her age group the year prior.
Originally from Manila, Eala now studies and trains at the Rafa Nadal Academy in Spain. She is ranked at a career-high No. 8 in the world after picking up the Grade A Cape Town title and a runner-up finish at the Grade A Osaka Mayor’s Cup.
Cody first played at Melbourne Park in 2018 when she won through the qualies to reach the last sixteen. In 2007, Zhang Ling also reached the same stage of the tournament after she upset No. 2 seed Chan Yung-Jan of Chinese Taipei in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2.
In the opening round, Cody produced a scorching inside-out forehand service return winner on match point to complete a 4-6, 7-5, 6-4, win over familiar foe, Ku Yeon Wu.
Cody last competed against Ku during the knockout stages of the 2018 Junior Fed Cup Asia/Oceania Qualifying when Hong Kong faced Korea in a must-win quarterfinal in order to progress to the World Finals.
She proceeded to beat Ku, 6-4, 6-4, at No. 1 singles and then teamed up with Jenny Wong to come from behind to win the deciding doubles after the HK pair trailed, 6-4, 5-2, overnight that was disrupted due to a rain delay.
“I would say this meeting with Ku was the most memorable match in Melbourne because it was very close and I could have just as easily gone out in the first round,” Cody reflected. “Overall, I’d say my performance at this year’s Australian Open was not bad, but I could’ve gone further.”
Nonetheless, Cody is coming off her best season on the ITF World Tennis Tour in 2019 when she reached a career-high girls’ ranking of No. 23 and became the first player since Patricia Hy to reach the last sixteen in girls’ singles at Wimbledon. She made her Fed Cup debut and was instrumental in propelling Hong Kong to the Group II Asia/Oceania Zone A Promotional Playoff Final.
The 17-year-old HKSI-trained athlete was also a girls’ doubles semifinalist at the US Open last year and she finished the season strong by capturing her maiden ITF pro circuit women’s singles title at the US$15,000 Hua Hin event in Thailand to attain her career-first WTA Ranking. She then concluded 2019 by winning her third straight CRC Open ladies’ singles title, a feat that was only achieved by Paulette Moreno back in the early 1980s.
Cody is nominated for the Cathay Pacific 2019 Hong Kong Most Promising Sports Stars Award. The results will be announced at the Awards Presentation Ceremony on Tuesday, March 24, at the Grand Hall of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Meanwhile, in the boys’ singles, Coleman Wong played at a high efficiency in many of the key stastical categories according to the analytics, as he broke Russian world No. 36 Marat Sharipov four times to win, 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-2, before he was eliminated by No. 7 seed Dominic Stricker of Switzerland.
He won a maindraw wildcard by beating Chinese Taipei’s Lin Nan Hsun to win the Dunlop Road to the Australian Open Juniors qualifying event in Yokkaichi, Japan to earn himself a trip to Melbourne Park this year.
Australian Open Junior Championships
Jan 25-Feb 1, 2020
(WC)Coleman Wong (HKG) d. Marat Sharipov (RUS) 6-7(3) 6-3 6-2
(7)Dominic Stricker (SUI) d. (WC)Coleman Wong (HKG) 6-4 6-4
(16)Cody Wong (HKG) d. Ku Yeon Woo (KOR) 4-6 7-5 6-4
(16)Cody Wong (HKG) d. Liubov Kostenko (UKR) 6-3 3-6 6-1
(16)Cody Wong (HKG) d. (4)Alexandra Eala (PHI) 6-1 6-3
Weronika Baszak (POL) d. (16)Cody Wong (HKG) 6-4 6-2
Photo 1: Andy Cheung / ArcK Photography
Photo 2: Cody Wong