Eala upsets No. 41 Tsurenko in first round of Madrid Open


ALEX EALA scored the biggest win just yet in her young career by pulling the rug from under world No. 41 Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, in the opening round of the Madrid Open late Tuesday night at the Arantxa Sanchez Stadium in Spain.

Ms. Eala, the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) No. 170, had a slow start but flaunted her fiery form in owning the last two sets for a massive feat in the Round of 128 of the elite WTA 1000 tourney, the third highest level in the women’s pro tour.

Up against a 34-year-old foe, the 18-year-old Filipina sensation did not shy away from the challenge sparked by a 2-0 blitz en route to a crucial 6-4 win in the second set to equalize after a flat 2-6 start.

Displaying immense composure at her age, the lefty wunderkind then ran laps on the Ukrainian foe in the clincher with a searing 3-0 closeout to flip a 3-4 deficit for the big comeback win from a set down.

“The biggest match of her career and her first win in the WTA 1000 event. Vamos, Laban Alex,” posted the Rafael Nadal Academy, where Ms. Eala is a proud graduate under the wings of the Spanish tennis icon.

A wildcard entry, Ms. Eala will try to catch another big fish in world No. 30 Sorana Cirstea of Romania in the Round of 64 today (Manila time).

If the stars align with another big win, Ms. Eala could realize a potential dream match-up in the Round of 32 against world No. 1 Iga Swiatek of Poland, who faces Xiyu Wang of China in other Round of 64 pairing.

Ms. Eala has been on a roll in the doubles tourney of the women’s pro circuit this season, with two titles already in India and France, before slowly but surely gaining her ground back in the singles. — John Bryan Ulanday