Tennis: Alex Eala posts pair of wins at W100 Tokyo

Rosy Mina

Posted at Sep 05 2023 07:03 PM

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Alex Eala of the Philippines at the 2023 W100 Tokyo in Japan. Ando Securities Open on Facebook

Qualifier Alex Eala of the Philippines made a strong debut at the W100 Tokyo in Japan on Monday by advancing to the singles second round and doubles quarterfinals of the $100,000 ITF tournament.

The 18-year-old with four ITF singles titles scored a 6-4, 6-3 victory in the opening round over her doubles partner, Japanese wildcard and World No. 386 Natsumi Kawaguchi.

Their outdoor hard court clash at the Ariake Tennis Park began with the 195th-ranked Eala securing a 3-0 edge after overcoming two deuces in her service game.

Kawaguchi, who responded with a love service hold, was unable to keep up as she trailed at 1-5.

The slump fueled the Japanese to bounce back at 4-5 after breaking twice when Eala served for the set at 5-1 and 5-3.

Eala bounced back quickly in the 10th game and clinched the first set on her third set point, 6-4.

The Filipino, who ruled the qualifiers as the top seed against Kanako Morisaki of Japan and ninth-seeded Anastasia Kulikova of Finland, maintained her lead in the second set at 4-2 by achieving another break of serve.

Despite being broken in the seventh game where she committed four double faults, Eala broke back by catching up to deuce and winning the first advantage point.

She proceeded to clinch the victory on her second match point, 6-3, to arrange a second-round duel with fifth seed and World No. 111 Kimberly Birrell of Australia.

In their doubles opening match a few hours later, Eala and Kawaguchi overcame Luksika Kumkhum and Peangtarn Plipuech of Thailand, 6-4, 7-6(3). 

The Filipino-Japanese duo recovered from 1-3 and 2-4, and leveled at 4-4 by notching their first break of serve.

In the 10th game, they caught up to 40-40 and broke on the deciding point for 6-4 while Kumkhum and Plipuech were serving to stay in the set.

Eala and Kawaguchi gained a comfortable 3-0 lead in the second set until their Thai opponents equalized with a forehand winner at the net.

Kumkhum and Plipuech, who turned things around by breaking twice to serve for the set at 5-4 and 6-5, were unsuccessful in both attempts as Eala and Kawaguchi broke back and forced a tiebreak.

From 0-2, Eala and Kawaguchi evened the score via a forehand drive winner and zoomed to 5-2 with a volley winner from the Japanese.

They prevailed on their second of four match points, 7-6(3), after the Thais hit a backhand overhead error.

In the quarterfinals, Eala and Kawaguchi will challenge No. 3 seeds Natela Dzalamidze of Georgia and Sofya Lansere of Russia, who eked out a comeback win over Fernanda Contreras of Mexico and Catherine Harrison of the United States, 2-6, 6-2, 11-9.