MANILA, Philippines — Alex Eala inched closer to the main draw of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Thailand Open after beating Han Xinyun of China, 6-1, 7-6 (6), in the first round of qualifiers on Saturday at True Arena in Hua Hin.
After a dominant first set, the 17-year-old Filipino had a 0-2 start in the second set but Han moved closer to forcing another set with a 6-5 lead.
Eala forced a tiebreaker and unleash a 6-0 start only for the Chinese veteran netter to score six straight points. But the US Open girls’ champion displayed composure, scoring two straight points to end the match after one hour and 53 minutes.
The Rafael Nadal Academy scholar needs another win to enter the main draw of the $250,000 tournament.
She will face the winner between Ekaterina Yashina of Russia and Kristina Dmitruk of Belarus in the last phase of qualifiers.
Eala came off an early exit in the qualifying round of the 2023 Australian Open with her first Grand Slam appearance as a pro ended by Japan’s Misaki Doi early this month.
The Filipino prodigy also rose to her career-best ranking in the WTA as the World No. 214.
Eala is eyeing her third appearance in the main draw of the WTA tournament after reaching the second round of the 2021 WTA 250 Romania and in the Miami Open last year.
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