ALEX Eala was made to sweat before subduing Romanian veteran Laura-Iona Paar 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 last Tuesday night at the start of the $25,000 International Tennis Federation Trophee dela Ville de Grenoble & Engie Open de L’Isere in Grenoble, France.
Currently ranked No. 903 in the Women’s Tennis Association rankings, Eala, 15, was kept on her toes by Paar, 32, who is 713 rungs higher at No. 190 and has won 13 singles and 53 doubles titles on the ITF circuit on top a doubles plum in the WTA tour last year.
Eala advanced to the second round against Spanish seventh-seeded Cristina Busca, who topped Italian Martina Di Giuseppe 6-4, 6-4 in the mountainside city famous for the fortress of Bastille, which figured prominently in the French revolution of 1789.
Eala fell to an early 0-2 hole in the first set after being broken in the opening game but leveled the count at 2-alll after breaking Paar in the fourth game.
The two traded service breaks to make it 3-3 but Eala took the initiative at 5-3 in the eighth then sealed the set by holding serve in the next game.
The Filipina 2019 French Open junior semifinalist looked headed for a stroll in the second set after surging to a 3-0 lead only to see Paar reel her back to equalize at 4-all before winning the last two games to deadlock the match at 1-all.
They fought through four deadlocks in the deciding set, the last at 4-all, before the plucky Eala gained a key break in the ninth game en route to the win.