MANILA, Philippines–Alex Eala is starting to feel the crunch of being the top seed as she struggled to get through the singles quarterfinals Thursday night (in Manila) in the Trofeo Bonfiglio in Milan, Italy.
The 16-year-old FIlipina struggled with her service game and had to waste two match points before scoring a hard-earned 7-6 (3), 4-6, 7-5 victory over Ksenia Zaytseva of Russia.
The Rafael Nadal Academy scholar will face in the quarters Sofia Costoulas of Belgium who advanced with equally tough 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (7) win over Georgia Pedone of Italy.
Eala, world No. 3 in juniors, yielded nine service games against the unseeded Zaytseva — who is ranked No. 77 in the world — in the Grade A tournament played on clay surface.
The Russian even took a 5-3 lead in the deciding set but the Filipina refused to give up, holding serve in the 9th game before hacking out a pivotal break to tie the set.
Riding on that momentum, Eala quickly held in the next game but had to chip away at the Russian’s serve to wrap things up after three hours of action.
Eala is still in running in doubles as she and American partner Madison Sieg were to face Zaytseva and Yaroslava Basrtashevich of Russia later Thursday night (in Manila).
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