FILIPINO juniors tennis standout Alex M. Eala is through to the quarterfinals of the 2021 US Open girls’ singles tournament after topping Michaela Laki of Greece (4-6, 7-5, 6-4) in the Round of 16 on Wednesday (Manila time).
Struggled for much of the contest which was played at Court 12 of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, 16-year-old Ms. Eala held her nerves late to complete the come-from-behind win and keep her tournament hopes alive.
After dropping the opening set, Rafa Nadal Academy scholar Ms. Eala was on the verge of defeat in the second set after trailing, 4-5, but was able to break her opponent’s serve to level the count at 5-5 and then won the next two games to force the deciding set.
In the third set, second-seeded Ms. Eala raced to a 5-2 lead only to encounter some resistance in closing out the game.
Ms. Laki, the 15th seed, managed to narrow the gap to 5-4 but that was the closest she could get as a forehand winner by Ms. Eala and an error by the Greek player brought the curtain down.
In the quarterfinals, Ms. Eala will take on Switzerland’s Sebastianna Scilipoti.
Later in the day, Ms. Eala also barged in the quarterfinals in doubles play with partner Hanne Vandewinkel of Belgium.
The duo defeated the tandem of Ms. Laki and Radka Zelnickova of Slovakia in a tie-break, 6-3, 3-6, 10-6.
In the quarterfinals, the Philippine-Belgian team will next face the American pair of Elizabeth Coleman and Madison Sieg.
In the ongoing US Open, Ms. Eala, the number two juniors player in the world, is seeking another Grand Slam title after winning a couple of titles in doubles play — the 2020 Australian Open Juniors Doubles with Indonesian partner Priska Nugroho and 2021 French Open Juniors Doubles with Russian partner Oksana Selekhmeteva. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo