Filipina tennis ace Alex Eala teamed up with Russian Oksana Selekhmeteva to beat Evialina Laskevich of Belarus and Alina Shcherbinina of Russia, 6-4, 6-4, in the girls’ doubles competition of the 2021 French Open at the Stade Roland-Garros in Paris, France.
The victory was the silver lining on a day that saw Eala’s campaign for the French Open girls’ singles title come to a screeching halt as she suffered a 4-6, 7-6, 1-6 defeat at the hands of Matilda Mutavdzic of Great Britain in the first round.
Shrugging off the disappointment and exhaustion, Eala teamed up with Selekhmeteva and showed their mettle, overcoming an early 1-3 deficit and breaking their opponent’s serve to take a 5-4 lead. They then held their serve to win the first set, 6-4.
Eala and Selekhmeteva kept on rolling and forged a 3-0 lead in the second set before Laskevich and Shcherbinina got their first game by breaking the former’s serve. Eala and Selekhmeteva continued to lead, 5-3, but Eala’s double fault gave their opponents a sliver of hope as they inched closer at 4-5.
Fortunately, Eala and her Selekhmeteva—who reached the doubles finals in the W25 Platja D’Aro last month—got their rhythm back and won the next game to clinch the set, 6-4, and the match. The duo’s next opponent will be the tandem of Sofia Costoulas from Belgium and Laura Hietaranta of Finland in the round of 16 which will be held on Wednesday.
Earlier in the day, Eala actually held a 4-3 lead after she broke her opponent’s serve in the seventh game. However, Mutavdzic did not blink and swept the next three games to nab the first set, 6-4.
Eager to get back into the thick of things, the 16-year old got off to a roaring start in the second set and established a 4-0 lead. However, Mutavdzic showed her mettle and fought back to tie the set at 6-6 and force a tiebreak. The British netter looked like she was going to come away with a straight sets win as she led, 4-1, in the tiebreak. However, Eala found her second wind and won the next six points to win the second and send the match to a deciding third.
Eala won the first set of the third but that proved to be her last hurrah as Mutadzic rattled off six straight games to take the third, 6-1, and end the match in two hours and 33 minutes.
The result was a letdown for Eala, who was looking to improve on her semifinal finish in the last French Open juniors competition. She had also prepared well, competing in nine professional tournaments and even winning a title—the W15 Manacor back in January. (JNP)