LONDON, England - Kimiko Date-Krumm continues to turn back the clocks at age 42, winning her first match at Wimbledon comprehensively in straight sets against German qualifier Carina Witthoeft, 60 62.
Date-Krumm confounded the 18-year-old Witthoeft throughout the match with her flat groundstrokes and constant net rushing, in fact rushing the net 20 times - and winning 16 of those. At the end of the day the age ratio of 42 to 18 was similar to the total points won in the match, which was 55 to 23.
"I was surprised," Date-Krumm said. "But I played Birmingham on grass, then I had good practice time in Aorangi Park here. I was in good condition. I'm feeling good physically. And my tennis wasn't so bad. I felt very good when I went on the court today, but still I was surprised the match went so quickly."
At the Australian Open this year Date-Krumm became the second-oldest player in the Open Era to reach the third round of a Grand Slam, after a 45-year-old Renee Richards did it at the 1979 US Open. She is also the second-oldest player in the Open Era to win a match here at Wimbledon, after a 47-year-old Martina Navratilova reached the second round here in her sentimental comeback in 2004.
What's the secret to her longevity? "I'm taking care of my body more, because of course the most difficult thing is recovery. I need to do fitness training, but if I do too much, I feel tired. For example, this past week I practiced Wednesday, Thursday and Friday morning, then fitness in the afternoons. But after three days of that, I took one day off. Then Sunday, Monday I had just one practice."
She was also asked about her rumored high consumption of green tea. "I like Chinese tea. Sometimes Japanese tea. I have a tea pot." She then pulled a tea pot out of her bag. "I always carry it around."
And to complement her tea consumption, what about her food consumption? "I eat a lot," she said. "I eat more than my husband. I eat more than my coach. I eat a lot. But I eat healthy food, of course."
But Date-Krumm's fitness level isn't all that wins her matches - it's the variety, speed, consistency, and most of all, fight. "Women's tennis, compared to our generation, is more speedy, more powerful. When I go to the gym I see everybody doing fitness training, and that's why everybody is much stronger than before. But tennis is not only power, not only speed, and not only for young players. We need mental also. We need experience. That's why it's not only the younger players at the top now, I think."
The Japanese veteran was also asked what it would take for another player from her country to enjoy the success she has had in her career - she went all the way to No.4 in the world during the 1990s.
"Morita is in the Top 50, then Doi is Top 100. She's 21 or 22. But there aren't so many other younger players coming to the Top 100 level. In the '90s there were 10 of us in the Top 100. I think they need more fight. If they do just their normal play, it's no chance, because we are not tall. We are not so big compared to Western people. So we need something special; otherwise we have no chance to beat the other players. And also they need to understand and study how to get to Top 100 or Top 50 level."