Tennis

Rallying Alex Eala books semis spot in ITF W60 Nantes

Ariel Ian Clarito

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Rallying Alex Eala books semis spot in ITF W60 Nantes

ALL SET. Alex Eala gets ready to receive a shot in the ITF W60 Engie Open Nantes Atlantique in France.

Engie Open Nantes Atlantique 

Pulling off another comeback win, Alex Eala reaches the final four of an ITF event in France to stay on track of her bid for a fifth pro tennis title

MANILA, Philippines – Alex Eala seems to have a penchant for overhauling a 1-4 deficit as the Filipina tennis standout pulled off the feat for the third time in two matches. 

The 18-year-old Eala overcame a 1-4 deficit anew to win the first set and eventually prevailed after 28-year-old home bet Léolia Jeanjean of France retired in the second, 6-4, 2-0, to clinch a semifinal spot in the ITF W60 Engie Open Nantes Atlantique on Thursday, November 2 (Friday, November 3, Manila time).

The veteran Jeanjean, who made the third round of the 2022 French Open, lived up to her billing as the tournament third seed by immediately racing to a 3-0 lead after breaking Eala in the second game of the first set.

Even as the Filipina got on the scoreboard at 3-1, Jeanjean held serve in the fifth game to maintain a comfortable lead at 4-1. 

That was when the world No. 193 Eala summoned the magic of her comeback the previous day, when she rallied twice from 1-4 deficits to triumph against Zeynep Sonmez of Turkey, 7-6(5), 6-4, in their quarterfinal match.

Eala broke the hometown bet Jeanjean twice and did not drop serve the rest of the way, winning the next five games to clinch the opening set, 6-4. 

Jeanjean, who earlier this year was ranked a career-high 102 in the world, failed to mount any challenge from that point on as she was forced to retire due to an undisclosed reason after Eala went up two games to none in the second set.

With the win, Eala will be playing on Friday against American-born world No. 179 Gabriela Andrea Knutson of the Czech Republic, with the winner advancing to the finals of the $60,000 ITF event at the SNUC Tennis in Nantes, France. 

The other semifinal matchup features two local favorites, top seed Oceane Dodin and eight seed Elsa Jacquemot. 

This is the farthest that Eala has gone in the circuit in the last three months since capturing her fourth pro singles crown in the ITF Roehampton W25K GB Pro Series in Great Britain last August. – Rappler.com

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