MANILA — Wildcard Alex Eala of the Philippines won her first ever Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) main draw match by posting a comeback in the opening round of the Winners Open 2021 Tuesday in Cluj-Napoca, Romania.
Eala, the 16-year-old World No. 639, overcame qualifier Paula Ormaechea of Argentina, 7-5, 6-2. The 28-year-old Argentine, who was World No. 59 in 2013, has 15 International Tennis Federation (ITF) singles titles.
The Filipino ace, who has won one ITF singles title at the W25 Manacor tournament, had a sluggish start as her opponent secured a 4-0 lead. Eala then turned things around to win the next four points to even things at 4-4.
Ormaechea broke serve, and Eala responded with a break after saving a set point with the Argentine on serve. At 5-5, the Filipino had a crucial hold of serve and in the following game, she earned three set points and claimed the first set with a forehand return of serve winner.
Eala kept her momentum in the second set where she took a 5-1 lead. While serving for the match, Ormaechea managed to break to trail at 5-2. Eala forced the 8th game to deuce and earned a match point shortly after.
A powerful forehand from Eala forced an error from Ormaechea, whose netted return led to Eala clinching the match, 6-2.
In the second round, Eala will face World No. 119 Mayar Sherif of Egypt, who scored a 6-2, 6-4 upset over top seed and World No. 59 Alize Cornet of France, a former World No. 11.
The Winners Open announced Eala as a wildcard recipient, describing the Filipino tennis star and Rafa Nadal Academy scholar as “one of the most talented players in the new generations.”
The Juniors No. 2 has two girls’ doubles grand slam crowns: with Oksana Selekhmeteva of Russia at Roland Garros 2021 and Priska Madelyn Nugroho of Indonesia at the 2020 Australian Open.
In July, she achieved the singles-doubles title sweep at the JA Milan 61° Trofeo Bonfiglio in Italy, her second juniors singles-doubles title haul.
Prior to her Winners Open wildcard, Eala received another significant wildcard in March for the qualifying draw of the Miami Open, where she fell short in three sets in the first round.