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. – Rappler.com