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MANILA, Philippines – Determined to get her pro campaign back on track, Alex Eala partnered with Latvia’s Darja Semenistaja and came back from a set down to defeat Taiwan’s Yu-Yun Li and Japan’s Eri Shimizu 6-7 (7-9), 6-1, 10-7, in the Necc-Deccan $40,000 ITF Pune women’s doubles opening round in India on Tuesday, January 23.
This bounce-back effort comes on the heels of Eala’s forgettable 2024 Australian Open stint, where she crashed in the qualifiers’ opening round.
Things started to click for the fourth-seeded Filipina and Latvian pair in the second set, where they broke off from a 1-1 deadlock to blank their Taiwanese and Japanese foes the rest of the way, extending the match to a deciding third set.
The super tiebreak was a tight contest which remained even at 3-3. Eala and Semenistaja then took control by going up 7-4, a lead they maintained until they closed out the tough battle at 10-7 after an hour and 37 minutes.
The 18-year-old Eala and the 21-year-old Semenistaja initially struggled as a pair, finding themselves trailing 0-3 in the first set. They managed to eventually tie the count and send the set to a tiebreak but fell short as Li and Shimizu drew first blood.
Eala and Semenistaja will next face the United States’ Jessie Aney and Germany’s Lena Papadakis in the second round.
After making the doubles semifinals of the WTA Workday Canberra in early January, Eala is now No. 365 in the world in women’s doubles.
Eala is also set to plunge into action in women’s singles on Wednesday, January 24. Seeded 5th in the competition, the world No. 187 prospect will be taking on world No. 260 Fanni Stollar of Hungary.
Finding herself in the upper half of the singles draw, Eala is on a potential collision course in the quarterfinals with her doubles partner Semenistaja, who is the top seed in women’s singles.
Meanwhile, Francis Casey Alcantara is also in India for the GNC-BR Adityan Memorial ITF Men’s Future.
He and Christopher Rungkat of Indonesia, the top seeds in the $25,000 event, will be facing world men’s singles No. 17 Bernard Tomic and Alexey Shtengelov of Australia on Wednesday in the men’s doubles first round. – Rappler.com