MANILA—Qualifier Alex Eala of the Philippines overcame a shaky start in the W60 Grenoble opening round on Tuesday in France to get past Joanne Zuger of Switzerland 6-4, 6-1.
Eala, 16, is ranked No. 587 in the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) while 21-year-old Zuger is the WTA No. 264.
After failing to convert a break point opportunity in the first game, Eala was faced with 3 break points in the next game.
Undeterred by her 0-40 situation, she clinched the 2nd game to catch up at 1-1. In the 4th game, Eala was down at 0-30, but held serve to be at 2-2.
After 25 minutes, the Filipino teen raced to a 40-0 edge and got the first break of serve to advance to 4-3. A love service game held by Eala widened her lead to 5-3.
Serving for the set at 5-4, Eala brushed off a 15-30 position due to a double fault by winning the next three points. She claimed the first set, 6-4.
The Filipino continued her run in the second set by immediately breaking the serve of her Swiss opponent.
Trailing at 0-2, Zuger tried to save 3 break points in the 3rd game, with Eala converting the 3rd one at deuce to extend her lead to 3-0.
The following game also went to deuce, with Eala holding serve to be at 4-0.
Zuger saved a break point in the 5th game, but a double fault awarded Eala another break opportunity, which she converted to serve for the set at 5-0.
Zuger held on to the match by breaking serve to get on the scoreboard in the 2nd set, trailing Eala at 1-5.
Eala broke back in the 7th game to take the match, 6-1, in 1 hour and 9 minutes.
While Zuger had a better 1st serve in at 67% with 3 aces versus Eala’s 63% with no aces, the Filipino improved on her 2nd serve in with 78% and 4 double faults against 61% with 7 double faults from the Swiss.
In the 2nd round, Eala will face No. 4 seed Chloe Paquet of France, 27, the WTA No. 124.
Eala made it to the main draw of the $60,000 tournament at Grenoble Tennis as the No. 10 seed in qualifying, defeating Thanh Lan Truong of France, 6-3, 6-2, in the 1st round and overcoming No. 6 seed Stefania Rubini of Italy, 4-6, 6-4, 10-4, in the 2nd round.
Prior to competing in France this year, Eala was a junior exempt in the singles draw of W25 Manacor in Spain, where she lost to No. 5 seed Giulia Gatto-Monticone of Italy, 2-6, 1-6, in the 1st round.
Eala, a Rafa Nadal Academy scholar, won her first professional title at the 2021 W15 Manacor tilt of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Women’s World Tennis Tour.
As a junior player, Eala has two girls’ doubles grand slam titles: the 2020 Australian Open with Priska Madelyn Nugroho of Indonesia and Roland Garros 2021 with Oksana Selekhmeteva of Russia.
At present, Eala is the Juniors World No. 12. The ITF Junior Player Grants Programme recipient in 2021 is among the 44 recipients of the 2022 ITF Grand Slam Player Development Programme. (R. Mina, abs-cbn)
PHOTO CREDIT: Alex Eala at the 2022 W60 Grenoble tournament in France. Photo courtesy of Grenoble Tennis on Facebook and KAM Production