By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
YOUNG Filipino tennis star Alex Eala got her 2020 French Open Juniors’ Grand Slam Tournament campaign off to a good start, hacking out a straight sets win over Hungarian Natalia Szabanin, 6-4, 6-1, early Monday morning (Manila time).
The second-seeded Eala, currently based in Mallorca, Spain, as a scholar of the Rafa Nadal Academy, found herself in an early 1-4 hole but kept her composure and fought back to take the opening set.
She continued with her steady play in the second set, not allowing her opponent to get much headway en route to closing out things and advancing to the next stage of the competition.
In the second round, 15-year-old Eala, who is also a Globe ambassador, will face off with Germany’s Mara Guth, a 6-4, 4-3 winner over France’s Sarah Iliev in their own opening round joust.
In this year’s edition of the French Open, Eala is hoping to pick up from her winning ways early this year before the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the tennis season.
Eala won the 2020 Australian Open juniors’ double events with partner Priska Nugroho of Indonesia in January. She was looking forward to building on it, but the pandemic and the subsequent postponement of events did not allow her to.
By winning the Australian Open juniors title, Eala made history by becoming the first Filipina to win a grand slam title, be it in juniors or seniors play.
Apart from the singles tournament in the French Open, Eala is also set to play in the doubles event, teaming up with Elvina Kalieva of the United States. Their doubles team is seeded third in the tournament.
They were drawn to start their campaign first against the Italian duo of Eleonora Alvisi and Lisa Pigato.