By Jordan Ikeda
Rafu Sports Editor
Kimiko Date Krumm’s three-day battle through the qualifying rounds to the first round of the LA Women’s Tennis Championships in Carson will be summed up in the fact that she didn’t make it out of the first round.
Her final line reads Sabine Lisicki (17), Germany, def. Kimiko Date Krumm, Japan, 7-6 (5), 2-6, 7-5.
But if you read between the lines, like those wholly familiar with tennis, or if you were actually there to witness the match, you will see that while the 38-year-old Date Krumm ultimately was eliminated from the tournament, she really did outplay her 19-year-old counterpart.
Of course, not taking away from the game Lisicki played. She got the points when the points needed to be had, obviously crucial to success. But the fact that Date Krumm scored nearly three times as many points overall, it’s easy to believe that she gave the match away as much as Lisicki won it.
Date Krumm, leading 5-4 in the first set, had an opportunity to but a scare in Lisicki, who is currently ranked 22 in the world. She was up 40-love but couldn’t close the deal. She had another ideal chance up 6-5 two games later, but again, she just couldn’t get that crucial point. In the tie-break, she battled all the way, before falling 5-7.
“Before when I play,” she said after the match, “after losing it was like everything finished. Now I have more wide views.”
Even still, she admitted on her blog (one she updates daily) that the loss affected her quite a bit and that she wouldn’t comment on it for a day or two. One can see why.
She absolutely dominated the second set of her match winning easily 6-2. The third set got off to a rocky start, including what she believed to be two missed calls in the third game. She argued with the chair judge, and then proceeded to lose the next game obviously frustrated.
“I was a little bit shock,” she told the Rafu Shimpo about what she believed to be missed calls. “The next game I lost four points in a row. I thought that I need to reset my mind, otherwise all the two sets I played very good, then it wouldn’t have been a good finish. I thought, ‘Okay, one more time, focus on the game. Focus on the ball. Then I forget everything and concentrated.’”
That concentration led to four straight games won that included several intense rallies that had the crowd “oohing” and “ahhhing” and clearly impressed with both players. But that rally along with the blazing sun seemed to sap all of her energy. Up 5-4 once again, she force Lisicki into a deuce before dropping three straight games. Lisicki was clearly more talented, stronger, faster, and of course younger, but Date Krumm played smarter and craftier and definitely has the more refined game. In this instance, she was simply overpowered.
“I’m not strong or have big muscles,” she said with a laugh flashing her famous smile, “but I still continue to play my own tennis. Everybody is more aggressive so I need to adjust a little bit. Big things I don’t change so much.”
It’s a game that serves her well, and one that was this close to having her knock off a top 25 ranked opponent. Settling for the knowledge that she played one hell of a game will have to appease her competitive juices for now as she plans to spend some time in California training for the U.S. Open qualifiers in a few weeks.
Oh, one last thought. Date Krumm made her professional debut on the WTA Tour six months before Lisicki was born in September, 1989. How bout dem apples?