Alex Eala scores biggest pro career win in WTA Madrid Open, downs world No. 41 foe

Ariel Ian Clarito

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Alex Eala scores biggest pro career win in WTA Madrid Open, downs world No. 41 foe

FIGHTER. Alex Eala celebrates a point in the 2024 Miami Open.


After a series of lackluster singles games, Alex Eala in Madrid earns a massive career boost, downing Ukrainian vet Lesia Tsurenko, one of the highest-ranked players she has ever faced in her young career

MANILA, Philippines – Alex Eala broke free at just the right time from the rough patch she has found herself in as of late, scoring the biggest triumph of her pro career on Tuesday, April 23, in the opening round of the WTA Mutua Madrid Open.

The 18-year-old Eala showed remarkable poise by coming back from a set down and erasing a third-set deficit to thwart 34-year-old world No. 41 Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine in three pulsating sets, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, at the red clay court of La Caja Magica in Madrid, Spain.

After a sluggish opening set that saw her fall behind early at 1-3, which she could not recover from, Eala jumped to a 2-0 advantage in the second set to show her Ukrainian foe she would not go away easily.

Even as Tsurenko answered back by winning the next two games and keeping the score knotted until the eighth game at 4-4. Eala did not flinch, snaring the next two games to extend the match to a third set.

Eala sustained the momentum in the deciding set by opening another 2-0 lead. But just when she appeared well on her way to an upset, Tsurenko awoke and not only tied the count at 2-2 but also regained the lead at 4-3.

Eala managed to steel her nerves and snatch the next three games to end the match after two hours and 20 minutes.

Receiving a wildcard entry to the main draw of the Madrid Open for the second straight year, the Filipina teen standout found herself pitted against one of the highest-ranked players she has ever faced in her young career.

Tsurenko, known to wield one of the best backhands on the women’s tour, was a quarterfinalist at the 2018 US Open, where she pulled off an upset over then world No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark.

She reached the fourth round of both the French Open and Wimbledon in 2023 and the third round of this year’s Australian Open. Tsurenko achieved a career-high world ranking of 23 in 2019.

Eala, meanwhile, had not been in sharp form in her last five tournaments, losing in the opening round three times. She also dropped her last qualifying match in the WTA Miami Open, thus missing out on the main draw.

Her only notable result in singles was when she reached the second round of the ITF W75 3C de Seine in France on the last week of March.

The massive bounce-back result earned Eala a second-round encounter against another tough veteran, Romania’s Sorana Cirstea who is ranked 27th in the tournament.

The 34-year-old Cirstea has made the quarterfinals of both the French Open and the US Open. Another upset victory by Eala could lead to a potential third-round clash against world No. 1 Iga Swiatek of Poland.

The Mutua Madrid Open is a WTA Masters 1000 event, the third highest level of competition in the women’s pro tour.

This year’s edition features nine out of the top ten WTA-ranked players, including Swiatek, No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, No. 3 Coco Gauff of the United States, and No. 4 Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan. –

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