Tennis

‘Fully focused’ Alex Eala eyes best WTA finish in Veneto Open

Ariel Ian Clarito

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‘Fully focused’ Alex Eala eyes best WTA finish in Veneto Open

HIT. Alex Eala returns a shot during the WTA 125 Veneto Open in Italy,

VENETA OPEN

Filipina tennis ace Alex Eala looks to stay sharp after booking a quarterfinal spot in the WTA 125 Veneto Open in Italy

MANILA, Philippines – It’s the farthest she has gone in singles in a WTA event. 

But Alex Eala hopes to continue going after coming out buzzing all match long, defeating fellow 19-year-old  Giorgia Pedone of Italy, 6-3, 6-3, to book a quarterfinal spot in the WTA Challenger Veneto Open in Gaiba, Italy, on Thursday, June 20.

“Fully focused for the next round,” Eala posted on her social media account hours after her second-round triumph. 

In the last eight, the Filipina teen will be up for a rematch with another Italian, Sara Errani, the former world No. 5 and former French Open finalist whom she stunned in the Miami Open qualifiers last March

Eala needs to stay sharp, much like she did against Pedone, who leaned on home crowd support to wield the upset axe against world No. 96 Hailey Baptiste of the United States, 6-1, 1-0 (retired), in the opening round of the WTA 125 event.

The world No. 169 Eala proved steadier against Pedone with the match on the line, going up 5-2 in the second set after weathering a string of five straight service breaks exchanged between the two teen standouts. 

Eala ended the match in an hour and 23 minutes when she held serve in the ninth game. 

Similar to her first-round triumph over Carole Monnet of France when she fell behind early, Eala once again found herself staring at a 0-2 deficit right in the opening set after dropping her serve. 

Knowing she could not afford to give the home crowd a reason to rally behind their compatriot, Eala stepped up her game, breaking the world No. 307 Pedone three straight times to gain a 5-2 lead. 

The Italian got a reprieve when she won the eighth game, but Eala broke serve a fourth time to go up by a set, 6-3.

Eala will next face 37-year-old world No. 91 Errani, who like Pedone, will be banking on the support from the stands of her fellow Italians. 

Aside from the French Open final, Errani has also reached the semifinal of the US Open and the quarterfinal of the Australian Open. 

Eala and Errani faced off in the qualifiers of the WTA 1000 Miami Open last March 18, where the 19-year-old Filipina scored an upset in straight sets, 6-3, 6-1, for her first win against a player ranked inside the top 100 in the world.

But that was on the hard courts of Miami. This time, the two will face off on grass as both gear up for Wimbledon which will begin on July 1.

A victory in the round of eight will propel Eala on a semifinal collision course with the quarterfinal winner between former world No. 27 Bernarda Pera of the United States and former world No. 65 Kamilla Rakhimova of Russia.  Either one will be an exciting potential matchup for Eala. 

Currently 103 in the world, the 29-year-old Pera has made five main draw appearances in Wimbledon and reached the fourth round of the French Open last year. 

The 22-year-old Rakhimova, ranked 108th , has made the third round of both the US Open and the French Open. – Rappler.com

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