Alex Eala fought hard and took 11th seed Viktoria Kuzmova of Slovakia into a two-hour marathon before bowing out, 6-4, 4-6, 2-6, in the qualifying match of the 2021 Miami Open at the Hard Rock Stadium, Tuesday morning (Manila time).
Kuzmova, 22, has reached Round of 32 of the 2019 French Open and the current world No. 104. On the other hand, Eala, 15, is the current Australian Open juniors champion and at present at 756th in the WTA Rankings.
The more veteran Kuzmova picked up her service game in the final and deciding set to overcome the Filipino teen after an exchange of service breaks, to take a commanding 5-1 lead.
Eala, 15, held serve in the following game to extend the contest and even threatened with a breakpoint with Slovak serving for the match, but eventually the latter took the win to end the two-hour-long match.
The 15-year-old earlier opened the match with a strong 2-0 start, which Kuzmova turned into a 3-2 lead. The Slovakian, however, had some problems with her serve in some crucial points, and Eala capitalized on it to take the first-set stunner at 6-4.
Kuzmova then found her second wind in the second and cruised into a 4-1 lead, before Eala made a case after making it to 3-5. The Slovakian, however, broke the latter’s serve to eventually take the set at 6-4 and force a decider.
Despite the loss, Eala’s debut in the Miami Open can be considered her biggest milestone as the tournament has gathered some of the best in the world. The tournament’s main draw has Grand Slam winners in World No. 1 Australia’s Ashleigh Barty, World No. 2 Naomi Osaka, and World No. 3 Simona Halep.
Eala was not the lone Filipina in the qualifying draw as Canada-based Leylah Fernandez also went through the same stage.
Unfortunately, Fernandez could not carry her momentum from her first WTA title two days ago in the 2021 GNP Seguros in Monterrey, Mexico, as she bowed out in straight sets against Romania’s Mihaela Buzarnescu, 4-6, 2-6.