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MANILA, Philippines – After a one-month break from competitive action, Alex Eala resumed her campaign in the pro circuit with a dominant opening-round win in the 2nd Empire Women’s Indoor 2023 in Trnava, Slovakia on Tuesday, March 7 (Wednesday, March 8, Manila time).
The 17-year-old phenom, currently ranked 220th in the world, downed sixth seed Leyre Romero Gormaz of Spain in a 6-0, 6-1 shellacking at the hard court of the TC Empire.
It was a surprisingly breezy victory for Eala against a higher ranked and more experienced foe as the 20-year-old Gormaz, ranked 176th in the world, already won six ITF singles titles in her young career.
Eala was thorough and merciless the entire match as she broke Gormaz five times while also scoring 56 total points against only 19 by the Spaniard.
The Filipina teen tennis star will next face Sonay Kartal of the United Kingdom in the second round of the $60,000 International Tennis Federation (ITF) event. The 21-year-old Kartal, though currently 262nd in the world, has a career-high ranking of 195 built on six ITF singles titles.
Eala will be up against a tough field this week in her quest for a third ITF pro singles title.
Leading the cast are top seed Viktoriya Tomova of Bulgaria, who is 91st in the world and has played in the main draw of all four Grand Alam events; and second seed Julia Grabher of Austria, ranked No. 93 and has won one WTA title and 11 ITF titles in singles.
Oceana Dodin, the 26-year old seeded third in the tournament, was ranked as high as world No. 46 a few years back. She has twice reached the second round of both the Australian Open and the US Open, and the second round of the French Open once. At the 2015 US Open, she defeated former world No. 1 Jelena Jankovic in the opening round.
Eala last appeared in a tournament in the opening round of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) 250 Thailand Open last January 31. She defeated veteran Han Xinyun of China and Kristina Dmitruk of Russia to earn a spot in the main draw, where she lost to former Wimbledon semifinalist Tatjana Maria of Germany in straight sets in the opening round. – Rappler.com