Alex Eala channels 'idol' Nadal to become Philippines' first Grand Slam winner | Inquirer Sports

Alex Eala channels ‘idol’ Nadal to become Philippines’ first Grand Slam winner

/ 08:38 AM September 11, 2022
Alex Eala of Philippines celebrates after defeating Lucie Havlickova of Czech Republic during their Junior Girl's Singles Final match on Day Thirteen of the 2022 US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 10, 2022 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.

Alex Eala of Philippines celebrates after defeating Lucie Havlickova of Czech Republic during their Junior Girl’s Singles Final of the 2022 US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 10, 2022 in New York City. Sarah Stier/Getty Images/AFP

Alex Eala became the Philippines’ first Grand Slam junior champion at the US Open on Saturday, using her “idol” Rafael Nadal for inspiration.

The 17-year-old Filipina defeated French Open girls champion Lucie Havlickova of the Czech Republic 6-2, 6-4 in the final.

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“My idol is obviously Rafa. He’s a very good role model, something a lot of people should idolize and try to be,” said Eala who is based at the 22-time Grand Slam champion’s academy in Spain.

“The biggest thing I notice in Rafa is how he fights till the end, how his thoughts are so clear.

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“He’s so calm, but at the same time so fired up. I think I really tried to channel that energy during this whole week.”

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Eala was playing her first junior tournament since the Orange Bowl in Florida last December.

Since then, she became the first Filipina to both contest and win a WTA main draw match when she defeated Paula Ormaechea at Cluj-Napoca in August.

Eala is already her country’s highest ranked player on the WTA at 297 in the world.

Her brother, 20-year-old Michael, who plays college tennis in the United States, is currently the Philippines’ leading man on the ATP, albeit at a lowly 1,506.

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TAGS: Alex Eala, Grand Slam, Rafael Nadal, US Open
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