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Eala assured of Asiad medal

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF LUIS VENIEGRA ALEX Eala celebrates after booking a come-from-behind win over Kyoka Okamura to secure her first Asian Games medal.

HANGZHOU, China — Alex Eala pulled off a shocker as she fought back from a set down to book a heart-stopping 0-6, 7-5, 6-0 victory over Kyoka Okamura of Japan in the women’s singles event of the 19th Asian Games on Wednesday at the Centre Court of the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre here.

Seeded No. 4, the 18-year-old Eala started slow before catching fire in the second and third sets to book a spot in the semifinals that guaranteed her of at least a bronze medal in this prestigious quadrennial event.

With that, Eala, a four-time International Tennis Federation women’s singles winner and a three-time Southeast Asian Games bronze medalist, will battle Chinese powerhouse Qinwen Zheng in the semifinals on Thursday.

The 20-year old Qinwen, who beat Park Sohyn of South Korea in the quarterfinals, 7-6 (4), 6-0, will be no easy foe as she is coming in as 23rd in the Women’s Tennis Association ranking and top seed in this tournament.

Eala, for her part, is ranked No. 192, making her the heavy underdog in their duel.

Her job, however, is not yet done as she and Francis Casey Alcantara are scheduled to battle top seed Yuki Bhambri and Ankita Ravinderkrishan Raina of India in the third round of the mixed doubles event later in the afternoon.

The last time the country won a medal in the Asian Games was 17 years ago when Cecil Mamiit and Eric Taino won bronze medals in the Doha edition.

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