Tokyo Date turns sour for champion Sharapova

Tokyo:A day before turning 40, Japan`s Kimiko Date Krumm bundled defending champion Maria Sharapova out of the Pan Pacific Open in the first round on Monday.

Date Krumm produced a shock 7-5 3-6 6-3 victory over Russia`s former world number one, who squandered three points for a 4-2 lead in the final set.

"Playing against a player who used to be number one and the defending champion I knew I had to play my best," the 1995 winner Date Krumm told reporters.

"I just got back from Korea yesterday and felt really tired but my body felt a little better today," added the Japanese, who reached the quarter-finals in Seoul last week.

Sharapova broke to take a 3-2 lead in the final set but buckled when up 40-love in the next game, double-faulting twice en route to surrendering her own serve.

"Momentum is so big in tennis," said the three-time grand slam winner, who is still struggling to return to the top of the women`s game after shoulder surgery in 2008.

"If you give your opponent a chance they can get confident and take the momentum away."

Sharapova, who committed 11 double-faults in total, praised the fitness of her opponent, who returned to professional tennis in 2008 after 12 years away from the game.

"It`s incredible," said Sharapova. "It just shows you how she has stayed in such great shape while away from the game. She is incredibly fit."

Seven of the world`s top 10 women`s players are competing in Tokyo this week at the $2 million tournament.

Bureau Report