Alex Eala displays steely nerves to stay alive in France tourney

Delfin Dioquino
Alex Eala displays steely nerves to stay alive in France tourney

EMOTIONAL. Alex Eala lets out a huge roar after earning her third straight win in the W80 Poitiers in France.

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Alex Eala dispatches her third straight French opponent to advance to the round of 16 of the W80 Poitiers

MANILA, Philippines – Alex Eala has been a thorn in the side of the home bets in the W80 Poitiers in France.

Eala dispatched her third straight French foe after outlasting Jessika Ponchet, 6-2, 5-7, 7-6 (6) to advance to the round of 16 of the $80,000 tournament on Tuesday, October 25.

Riding high on her back-to-back sweeps of Astrid Cirotte and Diana Martynov in the qualifying draw, the 17-year-old Eala held her nerve in the nail-biting third set as she finally got over the hump against Ponchet.

The 26-year-old Ponchet – who is ranked No. 161 by WTA, 87 spots higher than Eala – beat the Filipina twice in their first two encounters.

Eala fell 6-2, 6-1 to Ponchet in the W25 Palma del Rio in Spain earlier this year and again in the W60 Vitoria-Gasteiz as she got swept anew, 6-4, 6-4.

A third consecutive defeat seemed imminent when Eala squandered a 3-1 advantage and got broken twice to cede the second set to Ponchet, who then moved on the cusp of victory with a 6-5 edge in the third set.

But Eala showed immense composure in the 12th game, breaking a 30-30 tie with a forehand winner and another forehand shot which Ponchet failed to return.

Ponchet jumped to a 5-3 lead in the tiebreak only to commit three straight errors as Eala seized the upper hand.

Although Ponchet pulled even at 6-6 with an ace, Eala completed her payback in 2 hours and 30 minutes behind a powerful forehand and a forceful two-handed backhand.

Eala will face the winner between Marine Partaud of France and Vitalia Diatchenko of Russia for a seat in the quarterfinals.

In doubles play, Eala and Croatian partner Petra Marcinko advanced to the quarterfinals following a 6-2, 6-3 victory over the Belarusian duo of Yuliya Hatouka and Iryna Shymanovich.

Eala and Marcinko will tangle with the Czech pair of Miriam Kolodziejova and Markata Vondrousova next. –

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.