Alex Eala exits in W80 France semis, falls to Belgian foe anew
MANILA, Philippines — Alex Eala came up short in reaching the W80 Poitiers Finals as she yielded to Ysaline Bonaventure of Belgium, 1-6, 6-3, 3-6, in their thrilling semifinal duel on Saturday in France.
The 17-year-old Filipino was able to recover from a lethargic first-set loss and averted a 1-2 start in the second set by winning three straight games for a 4-2 advantage to force a decider against the Belgian.
However, the 28-year-old Bonaventure, who is currently Women’s Tennis Association’s No. 105, showed strong composure as she fended off her younger foe in their neck-and-neck duel in the decider to move to the cusp of winning, 5-2.
Eala blanked the veteran netter in the eighth game to trim the deficit but Bonaventure got the better of the Filipino prodigy in an extended ninth game, winning a break point to book her ticket to the final after a one-hour and 47-minute duel.
Bonaventure will face either Petra Marcinko or Clara Tauson, who will dispute the last finals ticket, for the W80 Poitiers glory.
This was still Eala’s best finish in her second $80,000 competition, surpassing her previous quarterfinal elimination in the W80 Rancho Santa Fe.
The Rafael Nadal Academy scholar, WTA’s No. 248, went through the qualifiers before reaching the main draw, where she overcame Jessika Ponchet of France, 6-2-, 5-7, 7-6(6) in the first round and took down Vitalia Diatchenko of Russia, 6-4, 6-3, in the round of 16.
Eala swept Ana Konjuh of Croatia, 6-2, 6-3, in the quarterfinal on Friday in France before Bonaventure asserted her mastery of the Filipino ace, whom she also eliminated in the second round of W60 Hamburg with a 6-4, 6-0 beating last week.
The third professional crown remained elusive for the US Open girls’ singles champion as she last ruled an International Tennis Federation event in the W25 Chiang Rai last April — her second title after the 2021 W15 Manacor.