Tennis: Alex Eala bows out of French Open

Rosy Mina

Posted at Jun 07 2021 08:05 PM | Updated as of Jun 07 2021 11:00 PM

MANILA (UPDATED) —In a gutsy battle between 16-year-olds in the Roland Garros junior girls’ singles opening round, Matilda Mutavdzic of Great Britain scored an upset over No. 2 seed Alex Eala of the Philippines, 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-1, on Monday in Paris, France.

World No. 624 and Juniors No. 3 Eala and World No. 865 and Juniors No. 19 Mutavdzic had a close fight in the first set where they leveled at 3-3 after breaking each other’s serves in the first four games and then holding serve in the next two games. 

Eala broke to lead at 4-3 with a forehand approach shot winner but Mutavdzic replied with a break to even at 4-4. At 5-4, the Brit earned three set points on Eala’s serve and clinched the opening set, 6-4, due to a double fault from the Filipino.

Eala bounced back in the second set, where she sealed a 4-0 advantage with a backhand down the line winner. She continued to lead at 5-1, before Mutavdzic inched closer and equalized at 5-5. Prior, Eala had two chances to serve for the set at 5-2 and 5-4. 

Eala managed to break to lead at 6-5 and serve for the set for the third time, but Mutavdzic broke with a passing shot to force a tiebreak. In the second set decider, the Brit breezed to a 4-1 lead and the Filipino fought back to win the next six points to claim the second set, 7-6(4).

Mutavdzic opened the third set by breaking serve and Eala did the same in the following game. Mutavdzic continued to fire winners to extend her lead to 5-1. With Eala on serve, Mutavdzic caught up to deuce, earned her match point, and successfully converted it, 6-1, to move on to the second round.

Also on Monday, No. 1 seeds Eala and Russian Oksana Selekhmeteva will see action against Evialina Laskevich of Belarus and Alina Shcherbinina of Russia. Eala and Selekhmeteva will seek to replicate their success at the W25 Platja D’Aro tournament in Spain where they were finalists in May.

In 2020, Eala made it to the Roland Garros junior girls’ semifinals, 35 years after a Filipino became a junior grand slam semifinalist — Felix Barrientos at the 1985 Wimbledon Championships.

The Rafa Nadal Academy scholar, who won the 2020 Australian Open junior girls’ doubles championship with Indonesian Priska Madelyn Nugroho, bagged her first professional title in January at the W15 Manacor tournament in Spain. 

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