Alex Eala showed great poise in the crunch and beat Greek Michaela Laki in a three-set thriller, 4-6, 7-5, 6-4, to advance to the quarters of the 2021 US Open Juniors tournament yesterday in New York.
The 16-year-old sensation was bothered by her erratic serves early but steadied herself to produce booming shots – make it beautiful – that mattered the most to win the entertaining match in two hours and 23 minutes.
She lost her serves thrice to drop the opening set and four in the second set but she survived it with her splendid passing shots that caught her Greek rival off-guard most of the time.
She went down 5-4 in the second frame when she was broken in the 9th game but Eala refused to fade in front of a motley Filipino supporters and unleashed a series of well angled shots that enabled her to win the next three games to even things up that pushed their match to a decider.
Seeded No. 2 in the tournament, Eala appeared to be in firm control in the third when she raced to a 5-2 lead but the Greek fought back furiously to threaten at 5-4.
The 10th game was a gripping one.
Both players displayed great resolve with the Greek putting herself in the advantage twice but failed in both occasions as Eala pushed herself to the max to finally drill the needed points to win the match.
The feat assured Eala of a best showing in the event – she reached only the second round during the 2019 edition.
In the quarters, Eala will face either Belgium’s Sofia Costoulas or Swiss Sebastiannna Scilipoti.