Teenager Eala lives up to the hype to qualify for Thailand Open

Alexandra Eala: Image: WTA Thailand Open

Another blustery day at the 2023 Thailand Open presented by E@ presented a challenge which Alexandra Eala, Astra Sharma, Joanne Zuger, Liang En-Shuo, Ekaterina Makarova and Valeria Savinykh overcame to advance to the main draw of the WTA 250 event in Hua Hin.

Seventeen year-old Eala, from the Philippines, is highly-rated after winning the 2022 US Open Junior title and lived up to the billing today, overcoming Kristina Dmitruk 62 75. The teenager, who trains at the Rafa Nadal Academy, served for the match at 5-4, was unable to convert but immediately broke serve and was pleased to stay calm to serve out the match at the second opportunity:

“I’m super happy with how I played today. She’s a very tough opponent, so I’m happy with how I composed myself on the court from beginning to end.”

Training in Mallorca for the past five years helped Eala deal with the wind in Hua Hin today and has taught the youngster a great deal by being in the company of 21 time Grand Slam champion Nadal:

“We get quite a lot of wind in Mallorca as well where I train so it’s not something unfamiliar, luckily for me. The biggest thing was to stay calm and think during the critical moments.

“We do talk (with Rafa) every once in a while, you know to say hi, it’s kind of intimidating but he’s very nice. I think the biggest advice isn’t exactly what he said to me directly, but it’s just the small little things that you see when he practises on the court. Even though he’s such a big star, he still says hi to the players in the gym and everything, it’s just his humility and his work ethic.”

Kristina Dmitruk: Image: WTA Thailand Open

Australia’s Astra Sharma backed up a strong showing yesterday with victory over fellow Aussie Ellen Perez 62 75 whilst Switzerland’s Joanne Zuger put paid to Thai hopes, downing Peangtarn Plipuech 75 63. Chinese Taipei’s Liang En-Shuo prevailed in a battle with Turkey’s Ipek Oz 76(8) 64, Ekaterina Makarova saw off Japan’s Miyu Kato 64 61 and Valeria Savinykh proved too strong for Serbia’s Natalija Stevanovic 75 60.

The Main Draw commences, Monday 30 January at 2pm.

Results – Sunday, Jan 29

Q2 – [8] E. Makarova d. [ALT] M. Kato (JPN) 64 61
Q2 – E. Liang (TPE) d. [2] I. Oz (TUR) 76(8) 64
Q2 – [3] J. Zuger (SUI) d. P. Plipuech (THA) 75 63
Q2 – [4] A. Eala (PHI) d. [9] K. Dmitruk 62 75
Q2 – [11] V. Savinykh d. [5] N. Stevanovic (SRB) 75 60
Q2 – [6] A. Sharma (AUS) d. E. Perez (AUS) 62 75


Alexandra Eala: Image: WTA Thailand Open