MANILA, Philippines – Alex Eala had to content herself with a split of her two matches on Thursday, March 9 in the 2nd Empire Women’s Indoor 2023 at the hard courts of TC Empire in Trnava, Slovakia.
After a dominant straight-set victory in the opener on Tuesday over sixth seed Leyre Romero Gormaz of Spain, the 17-year-old Filipina tennis star could not put up the same impressive performance in the second round of the singles competition.
Eala, ranked 220th in the world, was thoroughly beaten by 21-year-old Sonay Kartal of the United Kingdom, 6-2, 6-2, in the $60,000 International Tennis Federation (ITF) event.
The Filipina simply could not get her game going and dropped serve four times against world No. 262 Kartal, who booked a quarterfinal spot.
Eala then came back three hours later to team up with 27-year-old Justina Mikulskyte of Lithuania as they upset the fourth-seeded German pair of Vivian Heisen and Julia Lohoff, 7-5, 6-4, in the quarterfinal of the doubles competition.
After erecting an early 3-1 lead in the opening set, Eala and Mikulskyte found themselves playing catch up after their German foes broke back on the eighth game before retaking the lead, 4-5. But the unseeded Eala and Mikulskyte pocketed the next three games to close out the first set.
The second set was another close encounter and remained tied at 4-4 after an early exchange of service breaks. The turning point came in the ninth game as Eala and Mikulskyte broke serve anew, before ending the match in the 10th game.
But the semifinal presents another huge challenge for Eala and Mikulskyte, who teamed up for the first time. They will face top seeds Alicia Barnett and Olivia Nicholls of Great Britain, who as a tandem, have reached the second round of the 2022 Wimbledon and won a WTA title. – Rappler.com
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