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MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines’ near two-decade medal drought in Asian Games tennis is over thanks to Alex Eala.
Eala guaranteed herself of at least a bronze as she pulled off a come-from-behind 0-6, 7-5, 6-0 win over Japan’s Kyoka Okamura to advance to the women’s singles semifinals in Hangzhou, China on Wednesday, September 27.
Blanked in the opening set and down 0-2 in the second, Eala won 13 of the next 16 games to secure the Philippines’ first tennis medal in the continental showpiece since Cecil Mamiit bagged the men’s singles bronze in 2006.
Eala will also become the first female tennis player from the country to land a podium spot in the Asian Games in nearly 60 years, or since Desideria Ampon and Patricia Yngayo copped a couple of medals in the 1966 edition.
Okamura knotted the second set at 5-5 for a shot at a sweep, but the Filipina held her nerve and won the next two games to force a decider.
It was complete domination for the fourth seed Eala the rest of the way, with the confidence of the Japanese 11th seed broken down.
Eala prevented Okamura from scoring a point in the first three games of the third set then saved three break points in the fifth game to seize a commanding 5-0 lead.
Smelling blood, Eala shut out Okamura in the sixth and final game as she emerged victorious in the strenuous quarterfinal match that lasted 2 hours and 27 minutes.
Also beating Pakistan’s Sarah Ibrahim Khan and India’s Rutuja Bhosale in the earlier rounds, Eala will face the winner between Chinese top seed Zheng Qinwen and South Korean 10th seed Park So-hyun in the final four.
The semifinal is set on Thursday. – Rappler.com