Alex Eala draws inspiration from idol Rafael Nadal

Alex Eala paid homage to Rafa Nadal, saying she drew inspiration from the tennis legend on her journey to her US Open Girls Singles title.

File Photo from Alex Eala's Facebook page

The 17-year-old teen sensation crushed French Open champion Lucie Havlickova of the Czech Republic, 6-2,6-4, on Saturday, Sept. 10 (early Sunday in Manila) to become the first Filipino to achieve a Grand Slam Singles crown.

“My idol is obviously Rafa,” said Eala, who has been a scholar of the Rafa Nadal Academy in Spain for the past years. “He’s a very good role model, something a lot of people should idolize and try to be.”

“The biggest thing I notice in Rafa is how he fights till the end, how his thoughts are so clear. He’s so calm, but at the same time so fired up. I think I really tried to channel that energy during this whole week.”

Indeed, Eala played impeccably in her first juniors appearance since the Orange Bowl in Florida last December, not dropping a single set throughout the tournament.

Only two players forged her to a tiebreaker – Australian Taylah Preston in the third round and Canadian Victoria Mboko in the semifinal.

Eala’s historic feat was immediately celebrated, with her name trending on Twitter with tons of congratulatory messages.

Among those who celebrated her exploits was Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Chairman Noli Eala, who happens to be her uncle.

“What a way to start my Chairmanship of the PSC. My own niece giving the country another reason to be proud and to celebrate. Amazing!” Noli Eala wrote on Twitter.

Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Bambol Tolentino also congratulated Eala in a Facebook post.

“Maraming salamat sa pagbibigay karangalan sa bansa. Mabuhay ka, Alex!” Tolentino wrote.