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MANILA, Philippines – Alex Eala scored arguably her biggest doubles victory in the pro circuit when she and Laura Pigossi of Brazil prevailed on Wednesday, January 3, over former world No. 1 doubles player Sara Errani of Italy and Renata Zarazua of Mexico, 5-7, 6-0, 10-6, in the opening round of the $164,000 WTA Workday Canberra International in Australia.
Playing in just her 2nd WTA doubles competition, the 18-year-old Eala was also playing for the first time with the 29-year-old Pigossi, the Tokyo Olympics women’s doubles bronze medalist.
Unfamiliarity did not seem to be a cause for concern between the two as they jumped to an early 3-1 lead in the opening set. But Errani, who has won all four Grand Slam women’s titles including the Australian Open twice, and Zarazua steadied the ship and regained the lead at 5-4.
Although Eala and Pigossi tied the count at 5-5, Errani and Zarazua went up again at 6-5 then broke serve in the 12th game to bag the first set.
Despite dropping the opener, Eala and Pigossi came out in the second set with confidence that they could beat the fancied Errani who is also the former world No. 5 in singles and a former French Open women’s singles finalist.
The Filipina and Brazilian duo broke serve three times in the second set, and in all three instances came back from 30-40 deficits. They also did not drop serve to breeze through the second set, 6-0, and extend the match to a deciding super tiebreak.
Errani and Zarazua appeared to have recovered in the third set as they raced to a 4-2 lead.
Eala, 406th in the world in doubles, and Pigossi, who is 305th in the world, finally drew even at 6-6. That was all the momentum they needed as they swept the next four points to finish the match held at the hard court of the Canberra Tennis Centre after 1 hour and 32 minutes.
In the quarterfinals, the unseeded Eala and Pigossi will be facing fourth seeds Anna Bondar of Hungary, currently 56th in the world who made the French Open women’s doubles quarters twice, and 18-year-old Celine Naef of Switzerland. Bondar and Naef won their opening round match via walkover.
This will afford Eala a chance for some payback as it was her fellow teen star Naef who eliminated her in the opening round of the women’s singles event qualifiers last Sunday, December 31. – Rappler.com