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MANILA, Philippines – Alex Eala showed resilience and an indomitable fighting spirit yet again.
The Filipina tennis star had to grind it out for the second straight game, this time battling back from a set down and an early third-set deficit to defeat Nahia Berecoechea of France, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, in the Open Internacional Feminine in Spain on Thursday, June 1 (Friday, June 2, Manila time).
The victory propelled Eala to the quarterfinals of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) $25,,000 tournament held at the Yecla Club de Tenis in Fuenteálamo.
In the opening round, Eala also survived a grueling match over Katy Dunne of Great Britain, 7-5, 2-6, 6-2.
Seeded second in the competition, the 18-year-old Eala went up 2-1 in the opening set against the 19-year-old Berecoechea before rain suspended play, which seemingly derailed the Filipina’s momentum.
When play resumed, Berecoechea seized control of the set and ended up breaking Eala four times on her way to an opening set triumph, 6-3.
Eala came back strong in the second set and threatened to blank her French foe by zooming to a 5-0 advantage.
Berecoechea, who has already won three ITF singles titles in her young career, broke Eala in the sixth game only to get broken anew by the Filipina standout, who easily took the second set, 6-1.
The final set opened with the two exchanging service breaks in the first two games. That would prove to be Berecoechea’s last stand.
Eala dominated the rest of the match and did not allow Berecoechea any more opportunity to score as the 2022 US Open girls singles champion captured the next five games to close out the match at 6-1.
With the win, Eala matched her best finish of the year as she also reached the quarterfinal of the ITF W25 Monastir in Tunisia last week.
She will get a chance to reach her first semifinal for the year when she faces 28-year-old Victoria Rodriguez of Mexico in Friday’s quarterfinal.
Rodriguez was once ranked 216th in the world and has won an ITF singles title nine times already. – Rappler.com