Alex Eala and her partner, Oksana Selekhmeteva of Russia, sustained their momentum to book a thrilling 7-6, 7-6 win over Petra Mancinko of Croatia and Natalia Szabanin of Hungary in the quarterfinals of the 2021 French Open girls doubles event late Thursday (Manila time) at the Stade Roland Garros in Paris.
Carrying the momentum of its impressive win over Sofia Costoulas of Belgium and Laura Hietaranta of Finland in the Round of 16, the topseed tandem of the 16-year-old Eala and 18-year-old Selekhmetava displayed nerves of steel to advance to the Last Four of this prestigious annual event.
Eala and Selekhmeteva would be clashing with the Italian pair of Eleonora Alvisi and Lisa Pigato for a spot in the finals.
It’s going to be the second time for Eala to vie in the semifinals of Roland Garros.
Two years ago, the Filipina sensation also made it to the French Open semifinals of the girls singles event, but fell prey to the older, more experienced hometown bet in Elsa Jacquemot, 6-3, 6-2.
This time, Eala has brighter chances of winning the title that would serve as her first Grand Slam crown since ruling the 2020 Australian Open girls doubles event with Priska Nugroho of Indonesia as partner.
But against the gutsy tandem of Marcinko and Szabanin, Eala and Selekhmeteva started slow.
They found themselves trailing with a 5-6 deficit in the first set until they caught fire down the stretch with Eala delivering a beautiful left-handed front hand that forced a tiebreak.
The Filipino-Russian pair trailed again in the tiebreak, but found a way to steal the set after firing three straight points while watching world No. 9 Szabanin crumble to pressure with a costly error.
Eala and Selekhmeteva got things figured out despite trailing, 4-5, in the second set as they registered back-to-back attacks to inch closer to the semifinals, 6-5.
Selekhmeteva, who is still in contention for the girls singles title following a victory over Mara Guth of Germany in the quarterfinals, delivered the final blow with a drop shot to seal the victory.