MANILA – Number 1 seed Alex Eala of the Philippines maintained his dominance in the incline of JA Milan’s 61 ° Trofeo Bonfiglio by winning the singles championship in Italy on Sunday, a day after winning the doubles title female with Madison Sieg of the United States.
Juniors No.3 Eala surprised No.16 seed Nikola Bartunkova of the Czech Republic in the final, 6-3, 6-3, at Campo Tribuna at Tennis Club Milano Alberto Bonacossa.
Eala took a 4-1 lead and converted a break to serve for the first set at 5-1. Bartunkova responded with a break to lead at 5-2, then recorded set points to move closer to 5-3. Eala won the set, 6-3, on his third set point.
The Filipino ace took the lead 4-1 in the second set and Bartunkova caught up to 4-2. Eala hit back with a break to serve for the game at 5-2. The Czech beat three match points to break and hang out at 5-3. Eala ultimately won the title on his fourth match point, 6-3, with a serve break.
On Saturday, Eala and Sieg outlasted Sofia Costoulas of Belgium and Lucija Ciric Bagaric of Croatia, 6-4, 4-6, 13-11, in the women’s doubles final of the category A clay court tournament.
Eala’s single-double sweep at JA Milan was last held in 2016 thanks to Russia’s Olesya Pervushina. Since the founding of the prestigious Trofeo Bonfiglio in 1959, the single-double sweep has occurred at least seven times in the tournament.
For the 16-year-old Filipino, this is not the first time that she has won the singles and doubles titles in a tournament. In 2018, she won the singles and doubles crowns at the I Trofeo David Ferrer. The surface was also clay.
SUPREME IN SINGLES
With her title win on Sunday, Eala is now part of the Trofeo Bonfiglio Girls’ Singles Championships, which includes Simona Halep, Sloane Stephens, Belinda Bencic, Dominika Cibulkova, Anna Kournikova, Gabriela Sabatini and Virginia Wade.
Eala started her singles campaign in Milan by easily defeating Brenda Fruhvirtova of the Czech Republic in the first round, 6-1, 6-2, and Kayla Cross of Canada in the second round, 6-1, 6-1.
She went on to have tough wins over No. 13 seed Ksenia Zaytseva of Russia in the third round, 7-6 (3), 4-6, 7-5 and No. 6 seed Costoulas in the quarterfinal, 7 -6 (5), 4-6, 6-4.
The seed went on to defeat 14-year-old Mirra Andreeva of Russia, 7-5, 6-2, in the semifinals before beating Bartunkova in the final in straight sets.
Eala and Bartunkova are now 1-1 head-to-head as the Czech beat the Filipino in the quarter-finals of the 2019 ITF Junior Tennis World Final.
JA Milan are Eala’s fourth junior singles crown, following the titles they won at the JA Cape Town 2019, 2018 Phinma-PSC International Juniors 1 and 2018 I Trofeo David Ferrer.
In the ITF Women’s World Tennis Tour, the WTA world No.630 holds a professional title which she won in January at the W15 tournament in Manacor, Spain.
After their hard-fought victory for the doubles title on Saturday, Eala and Sieg join the list of women’s doubles champions Trofeo Bonfiglio, which includes Victoria Azarenka and Olga Govortsova, Flavia Pennetta and Roberta Vinci, and Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Barbora Strycova.
The JA Milan doubles crown is the fifth women’s doubles title for Eala, following her victories at the 2021 Roland Garros Junior Championships with Oksana Selekhmeteva of Russia, 2020 Australian Open Junior Championships with Priska Madelyn Nugroho of Indonesia, JA Plantation 2019 with Evialina Laskevich from Belarus and 2018 I Trofeo David Ferrer with Joelle Lilly Sophie Steur from Germany.
Milan’s road to the final saw No.1 seeds Eala and Sieg defeat Stefania Bojica of Romania and Matilde Jorge of Portugal in the first round, 6-2, 6-1, and Anastasiia Gureva and Ekaterina Maklakova of Russia in the second. round, 6-3, 3-6, 10-7.
They went on to beat two other Russian tandems: Zaytseva and Yaroslava Bartashevich in the quarter-finals, 6-4, 6-3, and No.5 seeds Kira Pavlova and Diana Shnaider, 6-3, 6-4, in the half. final before conquering the final at the expense of Costoulas and Ciric Bagaric.
THE RETURN OF THE TROFEO BONFIGLIO
JA Milan, which returned this year with its 61st edition after being canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, prides itself on being among the most important junior events in the world. The Trofeo Bonfiglio Hall of Fame web page reads: “The champions of tomorrow… today! “
Its first champion in 1959 was Sergio Tacchini. Other notable winners of the men’s singles are Ivan Lendl, Jim Courier, Goran Ivanisevic, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas.
In boys’ doubles, former champions include Novak Djokovic and Viktor Troicki, Andy Roddick and Julien Cassaigne, Guillermo Coria and David Nalbandian, and Thomas Johansson and Magnus Norman.