Tennis: South Korean eliminates Eala in W25 Portugal

 Alex Eala at the WTA Thailand Open in Hua Hin. 2023 Thailand Open

Filipino No. 8 seed Alex Eala suffered a 4-6, 3-6 upset in her return to the W25 Corroios-Seixal in Portugal on Wednesday against South Korean Sohyun Park in the opening round.

Last year, Eala went out in the singles second round and doubles quarterfinals of the $25,000 tournament on the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Women’s World Tennis Tour.

Also known as the Seixal Ladies Open, the Portuguese competition is being held on the outdoor hard courts of Clube Recreativo e Desportivo Brasileiro Rouxinol.

Eala, the 18-year-old ranked 261st on the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Rankings, opened the match at 1-0 with a love service hold.

WTA World No. 336 Park responded with a hold of serve followed by a service break after five deuces.

The three-time ITF women’s singles titlist from the Philippines replied by breaking back to equalize at 2-2.

Tied once more at 3-3, the 21-year-old South Korean with six ITF women’s singles crowns broke serve then yielded the following game due to a double fault.

After breaking serve for the third time in the eighth game, Park served out the first set on her second of three set points, 6-4.

She sustained her momentum in the second set by taking a 3-1 advantage, and Eala inched closer by trailing at 3-4 after getting past two deuces.

Park carried on by approaching victory with a 5-3 hold at 40-30, prompting Eala to serve to stay in the match.

Down 0-40, the defending US Open Juniors singles champion saved one match point before Park secured the victory at 6-4 to book a second-round clash versus American qualifier Varvara Lepchenko.

After playing for two hours and two minutes, both netters were unable to fire aces. Eala did not commit a double fault while Park served a total of four double faults. 

However, Eala only managed to win two out of nine break opportunities as Park converted five out of 10 break points.

Two weeks ago, Eala competed at the W40 Palma del Rio in Spain where she lost in the quarterfinals to Russian veteran and eventual champion Valeria Savinykh.

Eala and Savinykh are set to participate in another Spanish event next week at the W100 Vitoria-Gasteiz that will be held at the Peña Vitoriana Tenis Club. 

Joining them in the main draw direct acceptance list are former Top 60 players Heather Watson of Great Britain (WTA World No. 38 in 2015), Oceane Dodin of France (46th in 2017), and Jaqueline Cristian of Romania (No. 58 in 2022).

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