(photo credit: ERAN LUF)
For the first time since 1998, Israel will not have a representative in the main draw of the women’s singles at the Australian Open after Shahar Pe’er was knocked out in the third and final round of the qualifiers on Saturday.
Pe’er, ranked No. 117 in the world, was beaten 6-7 (2), 6-3, 6-4 by Richel Hogenkamp (137) of the Netherlands, who will be making her grand slam main draw debut.
Pe’er will miss the main draw in Melbourne for the first time since she made her breakthrough as a professional in 2005, with the Israeli last failing to make the main draw of a grand slam tournament at the 2013 US Open.
Prior to Pe’er’s streak, Anna Smashnova had represented Israel in the main draw in Melbourne between 1999 and 2005, but the blue-andwhite run in Australia has come to an end this year.
Julia Glushko (153) was already knocked out in the second round of the qualifiers on Friday, losing 5-7, 2-6 to Yafan Wang (179) of China.
“I’m really disappointed,” said Glushko. “I didn’t expect to open the year like this, especially after the successful week I had in Auckland. I couldn’t get into the match and at one stage I just felt like I was losing control. I will study this match and learn what I can improve on for the future.”
Following Pe’er and Glushko’s exits, Dudi Sela (105) will be Israel’s lone representative in the singles events in Melbourne.
Sela, who qualified automatically for the main draw, will face Jan-Lennard Struff (54) of Germany in the first round on Monday.
The Israeli will be facing Struff for the first time in his career and is aiming to claim his first win in the main draw in Melbourne since 2009, losing in the first round in his past five visits.