Filipina tennis star Alex Eala fought bravely but faltered against the world no. 104 Viktoria Kuzmova, 6-4, 4-6, 2-6, in the first round of the Miami Open qualifying draw at the Hard Rock Stadium in Florida on Monday.
The 15-year old Filipina was not fazed by the magnitude of this tournament, which has drawn the top Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) players in the world. She played like she belonged and got off to an early 2-0 lead. Kuzmova, though, regained her bearings and took the upper hand, 3-2, before Eala nabbed it right back, 4-3.
Kuzmova held serve to knot things up at 4-4 but Eala, who is ranked 737 in the WTA singles rankings, held her own serve and then broke the former’s serve to claim the first set, 6-4.
In the second, Kuzmova led, 4-1, and nabbed the second set, 6-4, to tie the game up at 1-1. The third set saw the Slovak netter dominate and establish a 5-1 lead. Eala kept at it and won the next game to trail, 2-5, but Kuzmova was too much to handle as she won the next game to close the set and the match in two hours and 21 minutes.
Nevertheless, it was a remarkable performance for the Filipina tennis ace who was given a wild card entry in this competition that has long been considered the “fifth grand slam” in tennis.
Among the big names competing in this tournament are Australian Ashleigh Barty who is the top-ranked tennis player in the world, world no. 2 Naomi Osaka, third-ranked Simona Halep of Romania, and world no. 4 Sofia Kenin of the United States. (JNP)