Japan's Date-Krumm still a force at age 40

Updated: 2011-06-21 09:38
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Japan's Date-Krumm still a force at age 40

Kimiko Date-Krumm of Japan celebrates after defeating Katie O'Brien of Britain at the 2011 Wimbledon tennis championships in London, June 20, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]

LONDON - The oldest player at this year's Wimbledon, Japan's Kimiko Date-Krumm, breezed through her first-round match on Monday by beating a player 15 years her junior in straight sets.

Forty-year-old Date-Krumm, who made her Wimbledon debut when Briton Katie O'Brien was aged three, dropped just six points before taking the first set 6-0 in 17 minutes on the All England Club's newly-opened Court Three.

Japan's Date-Krumm still a force at age 40

2011 Wimbledon

The former world number four had to work harder in the second set before winning it 7-5 to become the second oldest player to win a singles match at Wimbledon after Martin Navratilova.

"She's a force to be reckoned with even now," O'Brien told reporters.

"The first set went by in a flash, quite literally," added O'Brien, who is ranked 215th in the world and is playing at Wimbledon as a wildcard. "I was just constantly on the back foot."

Despite her dismal start, the 25-year-old put on a better show in the second set, taking the first game and managing to hold Date-Krumm level until 3-3.

But the Japanese remained in control, with O'Brien yelling out in frustration as she hit the ball long to hand her opponent a break.

With O'Brien 5-3 down and serving to stay in the match, the home crowd rallied round with shouts of encouragement, giving her enough of a boost to save a match point with a well-placed shot past Date-Krumm's backhand.

But it was not long before Date-Krumm wrapped up the set, lining up a second-round clash with five-times champion Venus Williams.

"I don't care about the age, but of course it's very, very difficult to continue to be in the best condition all the time and then every time after the match it's difficult to recover my body," said Date-Krumm, who took a 12-year break from professional tennis before returning in 2008.

"Venus is of course a good player ... I've got nothing to lose. I'll just try continue to like today."

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