Date-Krumm Winning In Carlsbad Like It's 1996
Published August 02, 2011 12:00
CARLSBAD, CA, USA - Kimiko Date-Krumm holds a very special distinction in Carlsbad, and it's not about her being the oldest player in the draw, like at just about every other WTA tournament she plays - the Japanese veteran is the only former champion in the draw, winning this title all the way back in 1996.
That year, when the event was called the Toshiba Tennis Classic, Date-Krumm was the No.4 seed and made the final without losing a set, including during very high-profile wins over No.5 seed Gabriela Sabatini in the quarterfinals and No.2 seed Conchita Martínez in the semifinals. No.1 seed Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario awaited in the final, and it wouldn't be easy - the Spaniard had beaten Date-Krumm eight times in a row. But after losing the first set Date-Krumm's game caught fire and she managed to hit her way to a 36 63 60 victory.
"I had lots of confidence at the time. Physically everything was better than now. But now I am enjoying it more and have more experience," Date-Krumm said. "When I won here it was a long, long time ago, and I already played here again last year, in the qualifying - I lost to the young American girl, Jamie Hampton. It's not easy for me to continue to win but I enjoy it and keep fighting."
Keep fighting she certainly did in her first round match of the 2011 edition of the tournament on Tuesday, winning 10 straight games from 3-5 in the first set to make it past newly-married South American No.1 Gisela Dulko, 75 60.
"I played Gisela in Barcelona this year and lost, but this time I knew how she was going to play," Date-Krumm said. "At the beginning I was a bit confused again, even though it was hardcourt this time. I lost my rhythm a little bit. But then I changed my plan and stopped hitting it as hard, and then she suddenly started hitting harder than me and began making more mistakes. So when I slowed the game down she was missing more. It was a good strategy."
Awaiting Date-Krumm in the second round is No.12 seed Sabine Lisicki, who beat another veteran on Monday, 32-year-old Hungarian Greta Arn. Lisicki has won 15 of her last 17 matches, including the 60 62 win over Arn.
Lisicki leads Date-Krumm in their head-to-head series, 2-0, although Date-Krumm pushed both of those matches very close - the Japanese has also had 14 wins over Top 30 players since coming out of retirement in 2008.
"I played her just recently in Birmingham and it was a tough two-setter," Lisicki commented. "She has a different style of play and she's always a tough girl to play against, but I'm really looking forward to the challenge."
On a side note, Date-Krumm is one of four players from that Carlsbad draw in 1996 who are still playing on the WTA. The other three, who all lost first round that year, are Lisa Raymond, Rennae Stubbs and Venus Williams.