MANILA – On her seventh match point, Alex Eala of the Philippines bested Eva Guerrero Alvarez of Spain, 6-3, 2-6, 6-2, in the first round of the W25 Corroios-Seixal tournament in Portugal on Wednesday.
Also known as the Seixal Ladies Open, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) event pitted WTA World No. 337 Eala against WTA World No. 372 Guerrero Alvarez at Court 2 of Clube Recreativo e Desportivo Brasileiro Rouxinol.
They started off their almost three-hour match with an exchange of service breaks followed by service holds, until the 17-year-old Eala gained advantage on deuce in the sixth game and broke for a 4-2 lead.
Serving for the set at 5-3, the Filipino teen earned two set points but was challenged to deuce.
Eala, the 2021 W15 Manacor and 2022 W25 Chiang Rai champion, fended off a break point before taking the first set, 6-3, on her third set point.
Guerrero Alvarez, 22, turned things around in the second set by clinching a 4-0 edge on her second break point opportunity.
The Spaniard, who has four ITF singles titles under her name, produced a love service game to be at 5-2 and broke to claim the second set on her first set point, 6-2, after forcing the eighth game to deuce.
Just like what happened in the opening set, the decider began with an exchange of service breaks.
This was followed by a trade of service holds until Eala broke to be at 3-2 and held serve to love to extend her lead to 4-2.
She gained three break points in the seventh game, and secured the chance to serve for the match at 5-2 on her third break point.
As Eala was serving for the match at 40-15, Guerrero Alvarez stepped up to bring the eighth game to deuce and gain three break points along the way.
The pivotal game went to deuce eight times, and Eala emerged victorious by holding serve on match point No. 7 after 2 hours and 40 minutes of play.
Up next for Eala is wildcard Alexandra Bozovic of Australia, who advanced to the second round after No. 6 seed Mariam Bolkvadze of Georgia retired from their match, down 0-5.
As for the doubles draw, Eala joined forces with 24-year-old Australian Lizette Cabrera, who is of Filipino descent.
The Pinoy tandem will challenge No. 1 seeds Justina Mikulskyte of Lithuania and Hong Yi Cody Wong of Hong Kong in the quarterfinals on Thursday.
In the first round, Eala and Cabrera received a walkover from Mariana Galvao Borges of Brazil and Maria Beatriz Teixeira of Portugal, while Mikulskyte and Wong were given a bye.
Cabrera, the WTA World No. 192 and singles No. 7 seed, suffered a 4-6, 4-6 upset in the first round versus qualifier Erika Sema of Japan.