Alex Eala makes history, captures US Open Girls title

Alex Eala delivered a performance of a lifetime after routing Czech Republic’s Lucie Havlickova, 6-2, 6-4, to clinch her first US Open Girls Singles title in Flushing Meadows Saturday, Sept. 10 (early Sunday in Manila).

Alexandra Eala of Philippines celebrates after defeating Lucie Havlickova of Czech Republic during their Junior Girl's Singles Final match on Day Thirteen of the 2022 US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 10, 2022 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (AFP)

It was a historic victory for the 17-year-old junior tennis sensation, as she became the first Filipino to ever win a Grand Slam singles crown.

She only made it as far as the semifinals in the 2020 French Open, and previously claimed titles in the Girls Doubles – at the 2020 Australian Open with Indonesian Priska Nugroho and the 2021 French Open with Russian Oksana Selekhmeteva.

So impressive was her journey to the top where she did not drop a set throughout the tournament with only Australia’s Taylah Preston and Canada’s Victoria Mboko forcing her to a tiebreaker.

“Buong puso ko po itong pinaglaban hindi lang para sa sarili ko kundi para makatulong din ako sa kinabukasan ng Philippine tennis,” Eala said during the on-court interview.

Seeded 10th in the tournament, Eala dictated the pace in the opening set by breaking her second-seeded opponent’s serve twice.

The Filipina ace encountered stiff competition in the second frame where she trailed 3-2 and 4-3, but was able to hold serve in the eighth game to tie it at 4-4.

A huge service break for Eala gave her the crucial 5-4 lead before closing the match with crisp serves and huge shots.

“It was overwhelming for me right now, but it’s a huge step for me personally. I’m just happy to be able to contribute and inspire the young generation,” said Eala during the post-match interview.

En route to the final, Eala crushed Canadian Annabelle Xu in the first round, 6-3, 6-0; Slovakian Nina Vargova in the second round, 6-2, 6-3; eighth-seeded Preston in the third, 6-2, 7-6 (1); Russian 14th seed Mirra Andreeva in the quarters, 6-4, 6-0; and ninth-seeded Canadian Mboko in the semis, 6-1, 7-6 (5).

She also competed in the Girls Doubles with Andreeva where they were seeded fourth but managed only to finish in the second round after they handed a walkover to Germans Carolina Kuhl and Ella Seidel.