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Alex Eala, Francis Alcantara score key wins in different doubles tournaments

MANILA, Philippines, January 5 ------ Hangzhou Asian Games mixed doubles bronze medalists Alex Eala and Francis Casey Alcantara both secured quarterfinal victories to advance to the semifinals of their respective tournaments in the pro circuit. Fresh off a thrilling 5-7, 6-0, 10-6 win in the opener over ex-world No. 1 doubles player Sara Errani of Italy and Renata Zarazua of Mexico, Eala and Laura Pigossi of Brazil caught a lucky break in the quarterfinals, prevailing via walkover against fourth seeds Anna Bondar of Italy and Celine Naef of Switzerland in the $164,000 WTA Workday Canberra International in Australia. 


The Filipina and Brazilian tandem will vie for a finals spot against the winner of the clash between top seeds Nao Hibino of Japan and Irina Khromacheva of Russia versus Australians Kaylah McPhee and Astra Sharma. This is Eala’s best finish thus far in a WTA doubles event. The only other time she played in a WTA-level doubles event was last October in the Jasmin Open in Tunisia where she and Oana Gavrila of Romania were booted out in the opening round. 


Over in Thailand, Alcantara and Kaichi Uchida of Japan toppled the higher ranked pair of Hans Hach Verdugo of Mexico and Jisung Nam of South Korea, 6-2, 7-5, in the round of eight of the ATP Challenger Bangkok Open 1 in Nonthaburi. Alcantara, now ranked at a career high 211 in the world, and Uchida, at No. 231, came in as the underdogs against Hach Verdugo, previously 60th in the world who has played multiple times in the grand slam main draws, and Nam, ranked 127th in the world. But Alcantara and Uchida jumped the gun on their fancied foes right in the opening set, erecting a 3-1 lead which they would not relinquish until they closed out the first set in the eight game. 


Hach Verdugo and Nam came out for the second set determined to extend the match to a super tiebreak. The Mexican and South Korea tandem jumped to a 4-1 lead and appeared in total control but Alcantara and Uchida refused to give up easily. The Filipino and Japanese duo captured the next three games to level the score at 4-4. After another tie at 5-5, Alcantara and Uchida broke serve in the 11th game and held serve the next game to end the match after an hour and ten minutes. Alcantara and Uchida will have to deal with a possible hostile crowd in the semifinals as they are set to face unseeded Thai bets Pruchya Isaro, who incidentally is Alcantara’s former doubles partner, and 19-year-old Maximus Jones on Friday for a shot at playing in the finals over the weekend.  




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