Alex Eala pulls off massive ITF W100 singles win

Ariel Ian Clarito

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Alex Eala pulls off massive ITF W100 singles win

SPUNKY. Alex Eala celebrates after a grueling match.

Alex Eala's Facebook page

A heavy underdog, Alex Eala survives an extended three-setter against former world No. 58 Jaqueline Adina Cristian in the Spain tourney

MANILA, Philippines –Alex Eala opened her women’s singles campaign in the $100,000 IV Araba World Tennis Tour Feminino with one of the biggest victories of her young career when the Filipina downed fifth seed and former world No. 58 Jaqueline Adina Cristian of Romania, 7-6(5), 6-7(1), 6-2, on Wednesday, July 19 (Thursday, July 20, Manila time).

Eala, the 18-year-old ranked 258th in the world, came into the match at the Peña Vitorian Tenis Club in Vitoria Gasteiz in Spoin as a heavy underdog against the 25-year-old Cristian.

The Romanian was fresh off a campaign in Wimbledon where she reached the second round in both singles and doubles. Currently 123rd in the world, Cristian ranked as high as No. 58 just last year and has won 12 International Tennis Federation (ITF) titles in her career. 

None of these daunted Eala, who engaged Cristian in a toe-to-toe battle in the opening set before escaping with a 7-5 tiebreak win.

The Filipina tennis star had her chances to close out the match in the second set, but Cristian took control in the tiebreak, 7-1, to extend their encounter to another set.

The first two sets seemed to have taken its toll on the Romanian as Eala came out fresher and stronger in the decider and triumphed in dominant fashion, 6-2.

Eala broke Cristian eight times and overcame the big serves of the 6-foot Romanian who fired off nine aces in the match that lasted three hours. 

Awaiting Eala in the second round is 19-year-old qualifier Tianmi Mi of China.

Eala will return to the court late Thursday to team up with Marina Bassols Ribera of Spain as they face Estelle Cascino of France and Diana Marcinkevica of Latvia in the quarterfinals of the doubles competition. –

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