By Chris Oddo/ Tuesday, October 8, 2013
She turned 43 in late September, but Kimiko Date-Krumm is showing no signs of slowing down in Osaka this week.
Photo Source: AP
Quietly, Japan's Kimiko Date-Krumm is putting the finishing touches on what has amounted to another smashing success. The fountain of youth turned tennis player with the neat, stealthy game was up to her usual hijinks on Tuesday in Osaka, taking out a player who was five years away from being born when Date-Krumm played her first professional match in 1989. That player would be Great Britain's Laura Robson, and though Robson is considered by so many to be a player on the rise, it was Date-Krumm who did the rising in Osaka, breaking Robson's serve four times to upset the world No. 42 in one hour and 26 minutes.
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The Kyoto Japan native won 18 of 27 points against 19-year-old Robson's second serve, and earned a total of 10 break points against her in 10 return games.
Date-Krumm, who comes into Osaka ranked 54 in the world, is within striking distance of becoming the oldest player in WTA history to crack the top 50. And that's not all Date-Krumm has done since unretiring after nearly 12 years away from the game in 1996. In 2009 she became the oldest player in WTA history to defeat a top 10 player when she defeated Dinara Safina at the French Open, a feat she would accomplish again later in the year when she defeated Sam Stosur.
After finishing 2012 just barely inside the top 100, Date-Krumm has been a woman on a mission in 2013. She opened the season by becoming the oldest player in WTA history to win a main draw match at the Australian Open (she reached the third round), then reached Wimbledon's third round this summer, becoming the first woman in WTA history to do that.
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Now, as 2013 comes to a close, one must wonder what else the ageless wonder has in store for us. Another thing to wonder is why she hasn't gained more notoriety for her remarkable achievements. At her age, Date-Krumm is performing at a level that only Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova ever did at similar ages. Why then isn't she celebrated at the level that her achievements merit. She isn't Serena Williams, but one could make the argument that at her age, with her atavistic playing style, her achievements in 2013 are nearly as remarkable as those of the world No. 1.
Typically we cringe when a player has a birthday beyond 30. Oh no, Roger Federer has just turned 32, what's going to become of him now? But with Date-Krumm, each birthday is welcomed with an air of expectation as we wonder how many milestones the living legend can rack up before she decides to close the books on her historical career.
In other action in Osaka, second-seeded Sabine Lisicki got by Chanelle Scheepers in straight sets, 7-5, 7-6(1). Sixth-seeded Madison Keys, ninth-seeded Kristina Mladenovic, Eugenie Bouchard and Zheng Jie also advanced.