Embattled Eala falls short of landmark Asiad finals stint

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alex eala during her semifinals match versus china's zheng qinwen in the 19th asian games
Alex Eala's outstanding run in the 19th Asian Games ended in the semifinals.
Tournament top seed and China's Zheng Qinwen overcame a slow start in the third set of their tighly contested duel to defeat the Filipina teen sensation, 6-1, 6-7 (7-5), 6-3.
Eala, already assured of the bronze by reaching the semifinal round, took a 3-1 lead in the deciding frame but lost steam to suffer the heartbreaker at the Olympic Tennis Centre in Hangzhou, China on Thursday, September 28.
Qinwen, 2023 US Open quaterfinalist, quickly clinched the opening set, as Eala struggled to contain her.
Eala, 18-years old, continued to trail the home bet, 2-5, before mounting a spirited comeback to knot the second set at five-all.
She then turned back a 6-5 disadvantage to force a tiebreak the 191st-ranked Eala won by a hair.
Gaining confidence, Eala came close defeating her 21-year-old Chinese foe in the decider after establishing a 3-1 cushion.
However, Qinwen, world number 23, rose to the occasion and ensured she won't disappoint at home by limiting Eala to just four points along the way.
Before her semis clash with Qinwen, Eala and her first-time mixed doubles partner Francis Alcantara went distance to overcome top-seeded Yuki Bhambri and Ankita Ravinderkrishan Raina of India in three sets to secure a spot in the quarterfinals.
Later in the day, Asiad debutants Eala and Alcantara can give the Philippines another podium finish if they win their quarterfinal match.
Such will also make Eala the first double medalist among the nationals competing in the quadrennial meet.
Despite the tearful loss, Eala's gallant stand drew admiration after dragging Qinwen to deep waters.
Besides, she snapped the country's nearly 20-year medal drought in Asiad tennis.

Last Modified: 2023-Sep-29 11.02.53 UTC+0800