Alex Eala opens Miami Open vs former French Open finalist

Alex Eala opens Miami Open vs former French Open finalist

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The path to the Miami Open main draw looks difficult, but not improbable, for Filipina teen Alex Eala as she faces first Italian tennis legend Sara Errani

MANILA, Philippines – Alex Eala hopes the fourth time’s the breakthrough when she begins her campaign in the Miami Open on Sunday, March 17 (Monday, March 18, Manila time).

Eala will need two wins in the qualifying rounds to earn a spot to the main draw of the WTA 1000 event. The path to the main competition will be difficult but not improbable as Eala drew a tough but beatable opponent for her opening-round match. 

The 18-year-old Filipina will take the court at 3 am Monday, Manila time, when she faces 36-year-old Italian legend Sara Errani in the first round of the qualifiers. 

Errani brings a resume that is as good as any on the pro tour. 

Although no longer the player she once was in singles, Errani remains a daunting foe for Eala given the Italian’s deep well of experience. 

The Italian is also still ranked 100th in the world, way higher than Eala who is now at a career-high 176th in the world. 

Errani was once No. 5 in the world in women’s singles. In 2012, she made the finals of the French Open where she lost to then world No. 1 Maria Sharapova in straight sets. 

That same year, Errani reached the US Open semifinals and the Wimbledon quarterfinals. 

Errani’s credentials are even more impressive in doubles. Now sitting at 65th in the world, Errani was formerly world No. 1 in doubles and has won all four Grand Slam events, including the Australian Open twice. 

What could give Eala an opening, though, to pull off an upset is that Errani has never been known to be a big server. 

This could offset Eala’s own service game which has remained the vulnerable aspect of her game. 

Aside from banking on her youth, Eala also had a glimpse of Errani’s game when they faced each other in doubles in the WTA Canberra International last January.

Eala teamed up with Laura Pigossi of Brazil to defeat Errani and Renata Zarazua of Mexico in three sets. 

If Eala manages to get past Errani, she will face either world No. 86 and 2016 US Open girls champion Kayla Day of the United States or No. 121 Emiliana Arango of Colombia. 

In her first foray in the Miami Open in 2021, Eala received a wildcard spot where she was booted out in the qualifiers by Slovakian Viktoria Kuzmova, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2

In 2022, Eala debuted in the main draw after earning another wildcard berth, but also exited early in the opening round against veteran Madison Brengle of the United States, 6-1, 6-2. 

The Filipina teen was back in the main draw in 2023 where she again lost in the first round to 32-year-old Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania, 6-2, 7-5. –

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