Minella Battles Back, Japanese No.2 Out Too

Kimiko Date-Krumm joined Ayumi Morita on the sidelines at the Toray Pan Pacific Open on Monday.

Published September 26, 2011 12:00

Minella Battles Back, Japanese No.2 Out Too
Kimiko Date-Krumm, Mandy Minella

TOKYO, Japan - Last year one of Japan's most celebrated pro athletes made an exciting run to the third round of her home tournament, but this year it just wasn't meant to be. Kimiko Date-Krumm started strong but wasn't able to keep it up and lost first round at the Toray Pan Pacific Open on Monday.

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Two days shy of her 41st birthday, Date-Krumm took just 32 minutes to win a 6-1 first set against 25-year-old qualifier Mandy Minella, But Minella won the first five games of the second set and managed to hold onto that momentum the rest of the match, eventually completing a 16 63 63 comeback victory. It was such an even match that both players won the same amount of points - 82.

Minella, from Luxembourg, is ranked No.155 in the world. Date-Krumm is No.68.

"We were both playing well but I missed some shots at the start of the second set and was losing my confidence," Date-Krumm said. "We were both focused today but she was playing better than me at the end. I never gave up though."

Date-Krumm has been using her star status in Japan to lend support to relief efforts from the earthquake and tsunamis from earlier this year. "I travelled to Fukushima with the Toray Pan Pacific Open a few weeks ago to visit one of the disaster sites and I'll be going again. It was a terrible tragedy and it's going to take a long time to fix everything. Very bad things can happen. But like I never give up on the court, we are never giving up to help as much as we can."

Last year, Date-Krumm pulled off victories over Maria Sharapova and Daniela Hantuchova en route to the third round, where she lost to then-30-year-old Francesca Schiavone. It was an impressive fall season for Date-Krumm last year, as she won 11 of 16 matches - and five of seven against Top 20 players.

Minella will take on No.5 seed Petra Kvitova in the second round on Tuesday.

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