US Open 2022: Eala makes grand slam title history as Philippines hot prospect hails Nadal influence

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The 17-year-old beat the Czech Republic’s junior French Open winner Lucie Havlickova 6-2 6-4 and did not drop a set in all six singles matches she played in New York.

As well as training at 22-time grand slam winner Nadal’s academy in Mallorca for a number of years, Eala has taken inspiration from the Spanish left-hander too.

“I think my idol is obviously Rafa. But I’m not just saying that because I’m in his academy,” she said.

“He’s a very good role model, something a lot of people should idolise and try to be. The biggest thing I notice in Rafa is how he fights till the end, how his thoughts are so clear. He’s so calm, but at the same time so fired up. I think I really tried to channel that energy during this whole week.

“That’s also what I tried to show, to people who look up to me, to think with a clear head and to not act irrationally.”

Eala was the 10th seed in New York and toppled the second seed in the title match, for a result she described as “very overwhelming”.

Last year’s women’s singles runner-up Leylah Fernandez is a player whose mother is Filipino Canadian, while Emma Raducanu, who beat Fernandez, has a Chinese mother.

“I think the final last year was very groundbreaking, something very special,” said Eala. “They’re both young and both from diverse backgrounds. It definitely hit a lot of people.”

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