Alex Eala’s gritty ITF W60 Nantes run ends in semis

Ariel Ian Clarito

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Alex Eala’s gritty ITF W60 Nantes run ends in semis

FOCUSED. Alex Eala looks to return a shot in the ITF W60 tournament in France.

Engie Open Nantes Atlantique

After a pair of comeback wins, Alex Eala falls short this time to end her bid to book a pro title berth for the first time in three months

MANILA, Philippines – There would be no rally from Alex Eala this time around.

The Filipina teen tennis ace could not sustain her strong start as she lost steam in the end game to fall to Gabriela Andrea Knutson of the Czech Republic, 2-6, 6-3, 6-1, in the semifinals of the ITF W60 Engie Open Nantes Atlantique on Friday, November 3 (Saturday, November 4, Manila time).

In her first final four appearance in the pro tour since August when she won one title and finished runner-up in another tournament in Britain, Eala got off to a blazing opening set when she broke Knutson thrice to easily surge ahead by a set.

But the second set saw the world 179th-ranked American-born Knutson get back in the match by scoring an early break to go up 4-1. That single break proved to be pivotal as it allowed the 26-year-old Knutson just enough separation to draw even by clinching the second set.

The third set would eventually be determined by how the very first game of the decider would go. 

While the 18-year-old Eala tried her best to hold serve and not give up control of the match, fending off five break points, a determined Knutson would not be denied, finally scoring a breakthrough on the sixth break point to go up 1-0.

That decisive point would give Knutson the momentum she needed to take over the match as she raced ahead to a 4-0 advantage. 

Eala finally managed to score in the fifth game, but she could not summon another 1-4 rally as she did the previous two days. 

Knutson closed out by pocketing the next two to end the match after one hour and 44 minutes to book a finals ticket in the $60,000 ITF event.

Eala, currently 193 in the world, and also made Philippine tennis history by winning two bronze medals in the Asian Games last September, will take a one-week break before resuming her campaign in the pro circuit in the Kyotec Open on November 13 in Petange, Luxembourg. –

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