Eala achieves maiden W100 semifinal berth in Spain

Posted by watchmen
July 24, 2023
Posted in SPORTS

Alex Eala of the Philippines secured her first semifinal at the W100 level in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain with a 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 win over home bet Lucia Cortez Llorca in the quarterfinals on Friday, July 21.

This is Eala’s best W100 showing to date on the ITF Women’s World Tennis Tour, following her second-round results last year in Shrewsbury, Great Britain and Grodzisk Mazowiecki, Poland.

The 18-year-old Filipino had a 0-2 start in the Vitoria-Gasteiz quarters clash on the Pista Amutio outdoor hard court of Peña Vitoriana Tenis Club.

The WTA world’s no. 258 and three-time ITF singles champion quickly turned things around by leveling the score via a forehand approach shot, and improved to 4-2 with a love service hold.

After breaking serve with a crisp backhand down the line, Eala served out the 35-minute first set on her second opportunity, 6-2.

The 23-year-old Cortez Llorca, who stunned French no. 2 seed Oceane Dodin in the second round, regrouped in the following set and imposed a 3-0 edge by holding serve to love.

The Spanish world’s no. 406 extended her lead to 5-1 after her backhand slice elicited a long forehand.

Eala broke back courtesy of a double fault as Cortez Llorca was serving for the set. She managed to narrow the gap to 4-5, saving a set point along the way.

The break was immediately returned by the Spaniard as she clinched the second set due to a double fault, 6-4.

In the deciding third set, Eala fought through six deuces to break for 1-0, thanks to a composed backhand winner at the net.

The Filipino continued to overpower her opponent, 5-1, by remaining solid in the rallies.

Cortez Llorca retaliated by holding serve to trail at 2-5, then brought the eighth game to deuce as Eala was serving for the match.

On her second match point, Eala secured the win, 6-2, to challenge third seed and world’s no. 137 Jessika Ponchet of France in the semifinals.

The French netter with nine ITF singles titles defeated Eala in straight sets last year in the semis of the Vitoria-Gasteiz tournament when it was a W60 event.

A year later, Eala returned to the upgraded W100 tilt in Northern Spain with an impressive ouster of Romanian fifth seed and world’s no. 123 Jaqueline Cristian in the opening round, 7-6(5), 6-7(1), 6-2.

The 2022 US Open Juniors singles winner backed this up with a victory over Chinese qualifier and world’s no. 840 Tianmi Mi in the second round, 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-0.

In the doubles draw, Eala and Marina Bassols Ribera of Spain shocked Indian second seeds Ankita Raina and Prarthana Thombare in the first round, 6-2, 6-2, before losing to Diana Marcinkevica of Latvia and Estelle Cascino of France in the quarterfinals, 5-7, 6-1, 9-11. (ABS-CBN News)

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