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Alex Eala bows out in first round of French Open girls


Alex Eala

FILE – Alex Eala of Philippines trains during the Miami Open at Hard Rock Stadium on March 24, 2021 in Miami Gardens, Florida. Matthew Stockman/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by MATTHEW STOCKMAN / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

MANILA, Philippines — Big-serving Briton Matilda Mutavdzic pulled the rug from under second-seeded Filipino Alex Eala, 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-1, Monday night in the first round of the French Open girls singles.

Mutavdzic also took advantage of Eala’s flurry of unforced errors to escape with the victory after two hours and 34 minutes at Court No. 3 of Roland Garros.

The defeat dashed the 16-year-old Eala’s dreams of surpassing a milestone of making past the semifinals of a Grand Slam event which she accomplished last year.

She was to play doubles later in the day on the same court with Russian partner Oksana Selekhmeteva who as top seeds will face Russia’s Ekaterina Laskevich and Belarus’ Alina Shecherbinika.

Eala was even up a serve, 4-3, in the first set. But Mutavdzic, who doesn’t move as smoothly as Eala but tracks down the ball much better, clinched the next three games to nail it.

But the Filipino World No. 3 in juniors, opened up the second set with aplomb, leading 4-0 through her leaping forehand winners.

Somewhere along the way, though, Eala lost her zing, allowing Mutavdzic to unleash her powerful service games —she finished with five aces — to force a tiebreak.

Eala looked spent after that 68-minute set, allowing Mutavdzic, who kept firing returns even at sitting position, to cruise to victory and into the second round.

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