MANILA, Philippines – Faced with a brave upstart playing like she did in the not-too-distant past, Alex Eala responded Sunday with a game that gave a glimpse of what she will be like in the near future.
The Filipino star gave up her serve right in the opening game and then blew three match points later before eliminating 15-year-old Czech Republic Nikola Bartunkova, 6-3, 6-3, for the Bonfiglio Trophy women’s singles title. Grade A in Milan, Italy.
It also sealed a double gift for Eala, who teamed up with her American partner Madison Sieg to capture the women’s doubles championship on Saturday night.
The Czech child prodigy, who beat her two years ago at the ITF World Junior Championships, hurt her with a break in the opening service on the center court of Campo Tribuna.
But it only fired up 16-year-old Eala, who showed maturity and composure as she quickly bounced back, kept serving, and then broke up in love again in the next three games.
Bartunkova, ranked 863 in women and 60 in girls, lost her feet after that, though she managed to break up in love before struggling to hold on in games 7 and 8 of the first set.
More importantly, the top seed Eala made it clear that she deserved the high marks despite the presence of brave youngsters who pushed her to the limit on the way to the championship.
With Eala serving for the match at 40-0, fighter Bartunkova decided to shoot down and tracked her down to break at 5-3. But Eala buckled up to take the next game and the crown.
It was Eala’s first title since winning JA in Cape Town two years ago. Academy Scholar Rafael Nadal now has four ITF junior titles under her belt.
Eala and Sieg edged out Croatian Lucija Ciric Bagaric and Belgian Sofia Costoulas, 6-4, 4-6, (13-11) in the tournament finals classified just one rank lower than the Grand Slams.
The Filipina now has a collection of five junior doubles titles, counting the Australian Open last year and the French Open earlier this year.
Bartunkova, seeded 14, defeated American Clervie Ngounoue (6-3, 6-3) to reach the final.
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