At the grand old age of 42 Kimiko Date-Krumm has become the oldest woman to advance to the third round of Wimbledon in the Open era with a 6-4, 7-5 victory over Romania’s Alexandra Cadantu.
The last time she made that stage was at the age of 25 but this afternoon – 17 years on - the 1996 Wimbledon semi- finalist had scored another victory to set up a meeting with defending champion Serena Williams.
The popular Japanese player, who earlier this week cited regular cups of Chinese tea as one of the secrets to her longevity, began the match physically fresh after a quick opening round win against qualifier Carina Witthoeft, a contest in which she only lost two games.
However, she faced a far tougher opponent in the shape of world No.87 Cadantu, someone who likes to pummel the ball. From the start, the former world No.4 Date-Krumm, meant business peppering her game with flat heavy balls and slice groundstrokes but it was her signature forays to the net that proved particularly fruitful – a forehand volley winner brought up a break point, and when Cadantu ballooned the ball long she was up a break.
A slight hiccup occurred in the next game when Date-Krumm produced four errors on the trot to gift the 23-year-old from Bucharest a break back. But the veteran, who at the age of 25 took 12 years off the tour to do ‘normal’ things such as get married, bided her time until the eighth game and ultimately let her experience do the talking over a foe 19 years her junior.
Her persistent service box approaches continued to pressurise Cadantu who netted the ball on break point, to give Date-Krumm the opportunity to serve out the set, which she did with a textbook cross-court forehand winner.
A brief wobble occurred late in the second when Date Krumm broke Cadantu in the ninth game to serve for the match but was broken back. At 5-5 the Romanian double-faulted to hand Date-Krumm a break point. A subsequent backhand error gave the veteran the break where she went on to convincingly serve out the match one game later in 85 minutes.
Earlier this week Date-Krumm admitted she enjoyed the sport more now than in her top 10 heyday because there was less pressure. "When I come back I'm enjoying very much, even if I'm losing. I have a lot of passion. I like challenge," she said.
Looking ahead to her contest with Serena, Date-Krumm added: “She's so strong. It's very, very difficult to beat her. I never play her. I need to just try my best. I hope I can stay more than one hour, one hour half.”
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