Hobbling Date Krumm, 39, stuns Safina in Paris
Paris: Japan`s Kimiko Date Krumm made a mockery of a 15-year age gap by stunning former world number one and last year`s runner-up Dinara Safina 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 in the French Open first round on Tuesday.
Date Krumm, 39, made her Roland Garros debut in 1989, when Safina was just three, and with the victory became the second oldest player behind Britain`s Virginia Wade to win a main draw women`s singles match in Paris since the game went professional.
The Japanese player repeatedly called on the trainer to treat a calf problem during the match and lost the first set in 36 minutes, but Safina lost focus and Date Krumm prevailed after two hours and 34 minutes.
"I am very sad for her, very happy for me. I just tried," Date Krumm said in a courtside interview.
"I was more thinking about her than about myself, what I had to do. I lost the momentum," Safina, who could barely put the ball in court by the end, told reporters.
"In the first set I think I was doing pretty good, but then I got tight and I lost the motion."
The Kyoto-born Date Krumm, who had called it quits in 1996 before returning to the tour two years ago, looked set for a quick drubbing at the hands of last year`s finalist when she went 5-0 down in the opening set.
Date Krumm, now 72 in the WTA standings and making her first Roland Garros appearance since 1996, did not panic, however. She managed three games in a row before letting the first set slip.
She went 4-2 down in the second set before reeling off four games as Safina lost her composure, smashing her racket into the ground but sparing the courtside geranium displays.
Safina broke again in the third set to open a 4-1 lead as Date Krumm, her face a mask of pain, stretched at the change of ends and had the tape on her right calf tightened by the trainer.
With her Russian opponent making a string of unforced errors, Date Krumm, who has reached the last four in all grand slams apart from the U.S. Open, simply hung on, waiting for Safina to crack.
The unthinkable eventually happened as Safina fired a forehand long on her first match point.