Tennis: Alex Eala, Russian partner cruise to French Open junior doubles finals

Rosy Mina

Posted at Jun 12 2021 02:39 AM

MANILA—No. 1 seeds Alex Eala of the Philippines and Oksana Selekhmeteva of Russia continued their stellar run in the Roland Garros junior girls’ doubles by booking a spot in the finals after defeating defending champions Eleonora Alvisi and Lisa Pigato of Italy, 6-2, 6-1, Friday in Paris, France.

Their semifinal, which lasted 53 minutes, was a fine display of the potential of the players, all of whom are junior grand slam doubles champions.

Eala, 16, is the 2020 Australian Open junior girls’ doubles champion while 18-year-old Selekhmeteva is the 2019 US Open girls’ doubles champion. Alvisi, 18, and Pigato, 17, won the Roland Garros junior girls’ doubles title in 2020.

Eala and Selekhmeteva had an early 2-0 lead, and despite Alvisi and Pigato catching up at 2-2, the Filipino and Russian broke and then held serve easily to advance to 4-2.

The seventh game went to a deciding point, which Eala and Selekhmeteva won to serve for the set at 5-2. After a volley from Selekhmeteva yielded a netted return, they claimed the first set, 6-2, in just 27 minutes with an 84% win on first serve.

As in the opening set, Eala and Selekhmeteva had a 2-0 advantage in the second set. They sustained their wins on first serve and even served better, improving their first serve to 67% from 45% in the opening set. With 71% receiving points won, Eala and Selekhmeteva prevented Alvisi and Pigato from winning more than one game, wrapping up the set, 6-1, in 26 minutes.

Eala and Selekhmeteva, who were finalists in the W25 Platja D’Aro tournament in Spain last month, will face No. 8 seeds Amarissa Kiara Toth of Hungary and Maria Bondarenko of Russia in the final on Saturday.

The Filipino and Russian marched on to the finals without dropping a set. They kicked off their doubles campaign with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Evialina Laskevich of Belarus and Alina Shcherbinina of Russia. They beat Sofia Costoulas of Belgium and Laura Hietaranta of Finland, 6-3, 6-1, in the second round and fought off Petra Marcinko of Croatia and Natalia Szabanin of Hungary, 7-6(7), 7-6(5), in the quarterfinals.

In a Facebook post, the Filipino ace posted about her Russian doubles partner. “I read somewhere - ‘If you want to lift yourself up, lift someone else up too!’ Let’s do this, partner!” Eala said of Selekhmeteva, who had a semifinal finish in the junior girls’ singles draw earlier in the day.

Eala, a Roland Garros junior girls’ singles semifinalist herself in 2020, was ousted in the opening round by Matilda Mutavdzic of Great Britain, 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-1.

In January, the Rafa Nadal Academy scholar won the W15 Manacor first leg, which is the first professional title for the Filipino.

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