Alex Eala survived a marathon first set to defeat veteran Rutuja Bhosale of India, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2, and advanced to the quarterfinals of the women’s singles event at the 19th Asian Games, held at the Olympic Sports Stadium in Hangzhou.
Eala, who is 18 years old, needed 72 minutes and a tiebreaker to outlast her 27-year-old rival in a tightly contested first set that thrilled a small but highly energized crowd.
However, the second set proved to be a breeze for Eala as she earned a quarterfinals meeting with Japanese player Kyoka Okamura, who emerged as a 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 winner over Savanna Ly-Nguyen.
On paper, Eala holds a slight edge over her Japanese rival, owing to her better ranking at No. 192, while Okamura is ranked 223rd. In addition, Eala boasts four ITF titles, which is more than her Round-of-8 rival.
Eala struggled with her serves early, committing 5 double faults compared to only three aces. However, in the second set, she double-faulted only twice as she started to dominate the match, coming through with powerful shots behind her double-fisted strokes.
Eala advanced to the round of 16 in style, blanking Sarah Ibrahim Khan of Pakistan, 6-0, 6-0.
Later in the day, Eala is also scheduled to play in mixed doubles with Ruben Gonzales.