By KRISTEL SATUMBAGA
Alex Eala survived an opening-set scare and beat lucky loser Margot Yerolymos of France, 7-6 (6), 6-2, at the start of the W60 Bellinzona in Switzerland Tuesday night.
Eala overcame her erratic service game in the first set to defeat 23-year-old Yerolymos and advance to the second round of her first $60,000 tournament.
The 15-year-old rising star held her ground in the two-hour match despite struggling with her serves that saw her suffer nine of her 12 double faults in the opening frame, including two at the tiebreak.
She arranged a second-round meeting with 12th seed Laura-Ioana Paar of Romania, who earned an opening-round bye.
Eala dropped her serve twice in the first set and gained the momentum at the tiebreak, clawing her way from a 3-2 deficit for a 5-3 lead en route to the set victory.
The feisty Filipina dictated the tempo in the second frame by cruising to a 3-0 lead before Yerolymos broke Eala’s serve in the fourth game to close in at 3-2 after holding her own in the fifth game.
But Eala recovered quickly, maintaining her pace by winning the last three games with variety of powerful shots.
The 32-year-old Paar is the same player whom Eala beat, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4. in the first round of the W25 Grenoble in France last February.