French Open: Girls’ doubles top seed Alex Eala, Russian partner stroll to Round 2

Rosy Mina

Posted at Jun 08 2021 02:24 AM

MANILA—The top-seeded pair Alex Eala of the Philippines and Oksana Selekhmeteva of Russia moved on to the second round of girls’ doubles play at the French Open after posting a 6-4, 6-4, win over Evialina Laskevich of Belarus and Alina Shcherbinina of Russia in Paris on Monday.

Eala and Selekhmeteva, the W25 Platja D’Aro finalists in May, teamed up again to prove their prowess on clay, overcoming an early 1-3 deficit by improving on their consistency. While leading at 4-3, they got broken in the following game to even. At 4-4 in the ninth game, they were forced to deuce before clinching the pivotal break to lead at 5-4. Eala served for the set and secured it with Selekhmeteva, 6-4.

Eala, 16, and Selekhmeteva, 18, began the second set with a break of serve. They continued to lead at 3-0 until Laskevich, 16, and Shcherbinina,17, notched a game. Eala and Selekhmeteva continued to dominate the second set with their solid returns and precise volleys. 

While serving for the match at 5-3, Eala committed a double fault on deuce, causing Laskevich and Shcherbinina to break and inch closer to her Selekhmeteva, 5-4. Putting the break of serve aside, Eala and Selekhmeteva focused on putting pressure on their opponents so that they could break back. 

They scored a crucial break in the final game, causing them to win the set and match, 6-4. They had two match points in the last game but were forced to deuce. A rally ensued until Eala cut it short with a volley to the T winner.

In the second round, the Filipino-Russian tandem will face either Ekaterina Maklakova and Maria Sholokhova of Russia or Sofia Costoulas from Belgium and Laura Hietaranta of Finland.

Earlier in the day, No. 2 seed Eala was upset in the junior girls’ singles opening round by 16-year-old Matilda Mutavdzic of Great Britain, 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-1. Despite her early exit, the 2020 Roland Garros junior girls’ semifinalist is still in the running to aim for her second junior doubles grand slam title, this time in Paris. 

World No. 624 and Juniors No. 3 Eala is the 2020 Australian Open junior girls’ doubles champion with Indonesian Priska Madelyn Nugroho. Selekhmeteva is a junior grand slam winner as well, bagging the 2019 US Open girls’ doubles champion with Kamilla Bartone of Latvia.

In 2020, Eala made history by reaching the Roland Garros junior girls’ semifinals 35 years after a Filipino became a junior grand slam semifinalist: Felix Barrientos at the 1985 Wimbledon Championships. In January, the Rafa Nadal Academy scholar clinched her first professional title at the W15 Manacor tournament in Spain. 

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