Eala stuns Aussie foe to stay on track of French Open main draw

Joey Villar - Philstar.com
Eala stuns Aussie foe to stay on track of French Open main draw
Alex Eala
Facebook / Alex Eala

MANILA, Philippines — Alex Eala knows the enormity of what she is about to accomplish — a feat that would change Philippine tennis forever.

So when Eala trailed by a set and 2-4 in the decider, the 18-year-old Rafael Nadal student from this archipelagic nation aching for sporting glory didn’t blink an eye and summoned everything she had to pull off perhaps one of the best victories of her life.

It came in a gritty, pulse-pounding 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 victory over world No. 137 and 30th seed Taylah Preston of Australia in the French Open women’s singles qualifier Wednesday night, which put Eala on cusp of setting a date with destiny and become the first Filipina to make a Grand Slam main draw.

But Eala, who booted out Chinese Ma Ye-Xin, 6-1, 6-1, the round before, needs to hurdle one last barrier to indelibly etch her name in the country’s history book.

And that one step would be to beat Argentina’s Julia Riera, ranked 93rd in the world, who turned back France’s Harmony Tan, 6-3, 6-2, in a showdown where Eala is expected to once again give it her all.

Already, this was Eala’s second victory in a Grand Slam and has somehow made heads turn with her girls’ doubles title three years ago alongside Russian Oksana Selekhmeteva and, recently, a maiden WTA 1000 triumph in Madrid that showed she had made significant strides.

But of course, nothing compares to making the main draw in one of the three biggest tennis events of the year and clashing with the best and brightest stars in the planet.

And that is what Eala is striving so hard to accomplish.

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