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Tennis: Alex Eala wins opener at W25 Madrid

MANILA – Four days after she claimed the W25 Yecla title in Spain, Filipino third seed Alex Eala rallied to a 6-3, 7-6(8) victory over American Jessica Failla in the first round of the W25 Madrid on Thursday.

Eala, 18, is the WTA World No. 266 with three ITF women’s singles championships while the 25-year-old Failla is ranked 464th with two professional doubles crowns.

Their clash on the outdoor hard court of Ciudad Raqueta began with Eala taking a 2-0 lead after holding serve at 40-15 then breaking serve to love.

Failla broke back on her fifth opportunity due to a double fault, and the players traded breaks until the American held to level at 3-3.

Eala won the next three games, 6-3, but had to save three break points before sealing the first set with an ace, her second of four match aces.

Failla earned a 2-0 edge in the second set due to a double fault, and Eala brought the next game to deuce and broke back courtesy of a double fault as well.

Upon reaching 3-3, the players were unable to hold serve until the second-set tiebreak.

Eala broke in the seventh game after five deuces, while Failla equalized at 5-5 after saving two match points while the Filipino was serving at 5-4.

In the 12th game, Eala served for the win for the second time and gained three more match points, but Failla persisted and converted her second break point to force a tiebreak.

Eala narrowly led at 2-0 and 3-1 before Failla caught up and advanced to 4-3 and 6-5.

The tiebreak reached 6-6 after the American committed a double fault on her first set point.

This was followed by Failla’s sixth double fault, which yielded match point No. 6 to Eala. The Filipino, however, squandered it with her ninth double fault of the match.

After Failla earned her second set point at 8-7, Eala responded with two mini-breaks to zoom to 9-8.

The Rafa Nadal Academy player from the Philippines finally nailed the win, 7-6(8), on her seventh match point.

Alex Eala claims third ITF crown at W25 Yecla in Spain
Eala, the 2022 US Open Juniors singles champion, will see action in the second round against another American, 23-year-old qualifier Alana Smith.

The World No. 808 had a much easier triumph in the opening round over 16-year-old lucky loser Maria de la Paz Alberto of Spain, 6-0, 6-0.

The W25 Madrid, also called the ITF Villa de Madrid Copa Volvo, offers $25,000 in prize money.


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