Tennis

Alex Eala begins French Open qualifiers with quick win vs Chinese

Ariel Ian Clarito

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Alex Eala begins French Open qualifiers with quick win vs Chinese

REPRESENT. Alex Eala of the Philippines in action in the 2024 French Open.

Alex Eala Facebook page

Alex Eala passes her first test in the qualifying round of the French Open with flying colors by making quick work of China's Ma Ye-Xin

MANILA, Philippines – Alex Eala is two matches away from a dream spot in the main draw of a Grand Slam event. 

Three days away from turning 19 years old, Eala was all business in dismantling world No. 197 Ma Ye-Xin of China, 6-1, 6-1, on Monday, May 20, in the first round of the French Open qualifiers.

The Filipina teen standout was aiming to bounce back after another sorry loss the previous week in the ITF W75 Zagreb in Croatia, where she was eliminated in the opening round.

Ma, meanwhile, was coming off a productive stretch in Japan where she made the semifinals of a W100 event in late April and the quarterfinals of a W75 event less than two weeks ago.

Eala showed right from the start that Ma needed to bid France an early adieu.

Now ranked a career-high 160th in the world, Eala jumped to a 2-0 lead in the opening set before Ma finally showed some semblance of resistance in the third game by gaining three break points. Eala, though, still managed to hold serve and even increased her lead further to 5-0.

The first set mercifully ended in the seventh game with the Filipina avoiding no more break points. 

It was more of the same in the second set, with Eala breaking her 24-year-old foe in the very first game on the way to a 4-0 lead.

Ma got on the scoreboard in the fifth game, but Eala restored order as another service break in the seventh game – her sixth of the match – allowed her to score the quick victory.

This is Eala’s maiden appearance on the fabled red clay courts of Roland Garros. Her next foe will be someone she is familiar with: fellow 18-year-old Taylah Preston of Australia.

World No. 137 Preston prevailed in straight sets over Croatia’s Tara Wurth, who just last week emerged champion of the ITF W75 Zagreb, the very same tournament where Eala exited early.

Eala and Preston teamed up for doubles action in the WTA 125 Oeiras in Portugal, where they lost in the opening round.

The two also faced off in the 2022 US Open girls’ singles tournament, where Eala beat Preston in straight sets in the round of 16 en route to capturing the title. – Rappler.com

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