MANILA, Philippines – Alex Eala booked a finals spot in the International Tennis Federation (ITF) W25 Chiang Rai event after blasting Yexin Ma of China in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4, in the semifinals on Saturday, April 8 at the Chiang Rai Sports Center in Thailand.
The 16-year-old Eala was all business from the get-go as she threatened Ma twice with break points in the fourth game of the opening set.
Although the 22-year-old Ma managed to hold serve, Eala would subject her Chinese foe to constant pressure the entire first set.
Ma again went down 0-30 on her serve in the sixth game as Eala pounded her with powerful returns, but the Chinese managed to rally to level the count at 3-all.
Eala finally earned a breakthrough in the eighth game to go up 5-3 before closing out the set on her serve in the ninth game.
The Filipina teen remained relentless in the second set which she opened by breaking Ma’s serve.
Ma, who pulled off an upset against second seed Danielle Lao of the United States in the first round, clawed her way back into the match and evened the score at 4-all.
That, however, would prove to be her last gasp as Eala broke Ma anew in the ninth game and clinched the match by holding serve after.
This will be the second singles finals appearance in the pro ranks for Eala. The first time she made the finals, she went all the way to win the ITF W15 Manacor in Spain in January 2021.
Eala will shoot for the singles crown of the $25,000 Chiang Rai tournament on Sunday, April 10.
Standing in the way of Eala’s quest for her second pro singles title is hometown bet Luksika Kumkhum.
The 28-year-old Thai was ranked 66th in the world in 2018. That same year, she made the third round of the Australian Open and the second round of Wimbledon. – Rappler.com