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MANILA, Philippines – Alex Eala’s two-week campaign in India ended on Saturday, February 3, but not after almost pulling off what would have been an amazing comeback.
The 18-year-old Filipina third seed engaged 20-year-old second seed Polina Kudermetova of Russia in a close-quarter battle for 2 hours and 28 minutes before falling in three sets, 4-6, 7-6 (7-5), 2-6, in the Indore ITF World Tennis Tour W50 semifinals.
The semifinal encounter should have ended in the second set if not for Eala’s indomitable fighting spirit. After dropping her serve in the 11th game, which enabled Kudermetova to pull ahead at 6-5, Eala faced match point on two occasions in the 12th game.
As she had done in the three previous rounds, Eala dug deep to not only break Kudermetova but also win the second-set tiebreak.
Kudermetova, the younger sister of former world No. 9 Veronika, came out with vengeance in the deciding set, racing to a 3-0 advantage. Eala, however, once again showed her resilience.
After a medical timeout, Eala got herself back in the match by snatching the next two games to inch closer at 2-3. The Russian, though, broke Eala again in the sixth game.
Eala had another golden opportunity to narrow the gap when she had three break points in the next game.
Kudermetova would have none of it, holding serve then breaking the Filipina in the eighth game to close out the match and advance to the finals on Sunday, February 4, at the Indore Tennis Club against fifth seed Dalila Jakupovic of Slovenia.
Eala will have a short respite before she joins her first WTA main draw for the year, the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open scheduled from February 5 to 11 in the United Arab Emirates.
The world No. 184 Filipina will be in for a tough opening round as she is set to face 31-year-old veteran Magda Linette of Poland. Currently 56th in the world, Linette reached the semifinals of the 2023 Australian Open. She reached a career-high 19th in the world rankings in March 2023. – Rappler.com