Date-Krumm one step away from history

Pune: Forty-two year old Kimiko Date-Krumm of Japan would look to become the oldest singles winner on the WTA circuit after she booked a final berth in the USD 125,000 Indian Open WTA Challenger tournament with a 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 victory over Thailand`s Tamarine Tanasugarn here on Saturday.

USA`s Billie Jean King currently holds the record for the oldest singles winner at the age of 39 years, seven months and 23 days when she won in Birmingham back in 1983.

Martina Navratilova holds the record of being the oldest champion on the WTA tour at the age of 49 years and nine months when she won the doubles title in Montreal, 2006.

With Tanasugarn just seven years younger than the ageless Japanese, the semifinal encounter between the two tour veterans was expected to be an engrossing affair of tactics and tenacity and both players lived up to that expectation at the nearly-packed Shiv Chattrapati Sports Complex.

Date-Krumm, who trailed Tanasugarn 1-3 in head-to-head record before today`s encounter, drew first blood as she pocketed the first set.

The two players held their serves with ease in the initial exchanges before the Thailand player broke Date-Krumm in the fifth game but the Japanese returned the favour in the very next game.

However, Tanasugarn kept pushing the oldest player on the tour and was duly rewarded when she earned a break in the 11th game and then served out to take the match into the decider.

The third and final set saw a flurry of activities with Date-Krumm breaking Tanasugarn in the second game and losing her serve in the very next. But it was the experience of Date-Krumm that helped her sail through thereafter with the former top-10 player breaking her opponent in the fourth and sixth game to take a 5-1 lead.

But Tanasugarn immediately hit back by attacking Date-Krumm and prolonging the rallies and broke her opponent in the seventh and ninth game to bring the match alive. She, however, could not avoid the inevitable as she dropped her serve in the 10th game with a double fault after having saved two match points.