Tennis: Eala, Robbe advance to W25 Madrid double QF

Filipino teen tennis star Alex Eala at the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam in May. Photo courtesy of the Vietnam Tennis Federation.

MANILA – Alex Eala of the Philippines and Alice Robbe of France caused a 6-3, 6-3 upset over No. 3 seeds Alana Parnaby and Ivana Popovic of Australia in the opening round of the W25 Madrid tournament in Spain on Tuesday.

Eala and Robbe bested the Australians in 1 hour and 8 minutes to book a slot in the quarterfinals, where they will face Zoe Hives of Australia and Katherine Sebov of Canada.

At Ciudad de la Raqueta’s Court 13, an outdoor hard court, Eala and Robbe quickly took a 2-0 lead.

Parnaby and Popovic caught up at 2-2, but Eala and Robbe held on to remain in the lead at 4-3.

Eala then fired a forehand down the line return of serve winner, which led the Filipino-French tandem to break and serve for the set at 5-3.

At 40-30, Robbe hit an overhead smash that was unreturned by the Australians, allowing Eala and Robbe to take the first set, 6-3.

Parnaby and Popovic rushed to take a 3-1 lead in the second set, courtesy of an Eala double fault.

In the fifth game, the 17-year-old Filipino responded with a backhand cross court return of serve winner to produce two break points.

A forehand error from the Australians caused Eala and Robbe to break serve and inch closer at 2-3.

They equalized at 3-3 with a love service hold, and broke in the seventh game after a double fault from Parnaby and Popovic.

Down 0-40, Eala and Robbe managed to whip out a crucial hold of serve to be at 5-3 after forcing a return of serve error.

With Parnaby and Popovic serving to stay in the match, Eala and Robbe raced to 40-0.

The Australians reduced the deficit to 30-40 with an ace, but a forehand error awarded the break as well as the match to the Filipino and French, 6-3.

In February, Eala and Robbe posted a quarterfinal finish at the W25 Macon doubles tournament in France.

Meanwhile, WTA World No. 419 Eala will compete in the W25 Madrid singles draw on Wednesday against 25-year-old Arina Gabriela Vasilescu of Romania, the WTA World No. 605.

Eala is coming off her Southeast Asian (SEA) Games debut last month in Vietnam, where she took home three bronze medals from the women’s team event, singles, and mixed doubles with Treat Huey.

She has two professional titles on the International Tennis Federation’s Women’s World Tennis Tour: the 2021 W15 Manacor in Spain and 2022 W25 Chiang Rai in Thailand.

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