Tennis

Alex Eala falls to No. 29 seed in Miami Open debut

Beatrice Go
Alex Eala falls to No. 29 seed in Miami Open debut

DEBUT. Alex Eala earns a wild card to the 2021 Miami Open.

Photo from Rafael Nadal Academy

The Filipina teen sensation flashes grit over Slovakian Viktoria Kuzmova despite the losing effort

Filipina teen tennis sensation Alex Eala sized up to world No. 29 Viktoria Kuzmova, but faltered in her 2021 Miami Open debut.

The Slovakian overcame an opening set deficit to defeat Eala, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2, in the 1st round of the 2021 Miami Open qualifying draw.

Though the 15-year-old managed to stun Kuzmova in the 1st set, the qualifying tournament No. 11 seed found her footing in the following set as she made 7 aces against Eala.

After taking the match to a deciding set, Kuzmova then wrapped it up by converting 3 break points to advance in the draw.

Rafael Nadal’s uncle Toni made the announcement last March 16 that Eala was given a wild card to the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) 1000 level tournament.

The main draw will showcase world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty, world No. 2 and 2021 Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka, and world No. 3 Simona Halep.

Eala has had a stellar 2021 as she opened the year with a maiden pro title in the first leg of the Rafael Nadal Academy World Tennis Tour.

The 15-year-old Filipina was then on a roll with 4 consecutive tournaments to open the year and was able to qualify for $25,000 tournaments through the International Tennis Federation (ITF) junior exempt program. This is where the top-ranked juniors players are allotted a number of pro tournament spots within the year.

Since Eala finished with a year-end world No. 3 ranking in the juniors circuit, she is allowed to join up to 3 $25,000 and 2 $60,000 events this year.

After kicking off the 2020 season with her maiden Grand Slam title in Melbourne, the rising tennis star became the Philippines’ first junior Grand Slam semifinalist in 35 years in the Roland Garros girls singles tournament– Rappler.com

Beatrice Go

More commonly known as Bee, Beatrice Go is a multimedia sports reporter for Rappler, who covers Philippine sports governance, national teams, football, and the UAAP. Stay tuned for her news and features on Philippine sports and videos like the Rappler Athlete’s Corner and Rappler Sports Timeout.