Kimiko Date-Krumm is still winning in the Grand Slam arena at age 42, much to the dismay of her former peers.
Asked what her 1990s-era rivals such as Steffi Graf and Gabriela Sabatini say when they see her, Date-Krumm said: ”Everybody say to me, `You are crazy.’ First word is always, `You are crazy.”
Date-Krumm advanced to the third round of the Australian Open on Thursday with a 6-2, 7-5 win over Shahar Peer.
Graf, who beat Date-Krumm in the 1994 Australian Open semifinals before going on to win the title, is now married to four-time Australian Open champion Andre Agassi and has two children.
”Of course, she say to me, `You should stop now and make the baby,”’ Date-Krumm said of the advice she gets from the 43-year-old former German ace.
Date-Krumm doesn’t plan to stop anytime soon. At 42 years, 111 days, she is the second-oldest woman to reach the third round of a Grand Slam after Renee Richards, who was 45 years, 8 days old when she reached the third round of the US Open in 1979. Date-Krumm upset No. 12-seeded Nadia Petrova in the first round.
The Japanese veteran joked she could be playing for five more years, but added, it’s ”not easy. I need new body.”
For a woman who says she’s still playing tennis for fun, she certainly didn’t look like she was enjoying herself against Peer in the stifling heat on Thursday.
Serving for the match at 5-4 in the second set, Date-Krumm dug herself into a 4-0 hole and started muttering to herself in Japanese and glaring at Peer’s singing supporters in the stands. ”I felt so heavy (in) my body and I couldn’t move,” she said.
However, after winning the match two games later, she threw her head back, kissed her racket and smiled at the hundreds of Japanese fans cheering in the stands.
She survived to play another round. And if that isn’t enough, she’s still in contention in the doubles draw, too.
On Tuesday, Serena Williams was concerned she wouldn’t be able to play her second-round match at the Australian Open because of a minor ankle injury.
She not only played — and won — the match against Spanish teenager Garbine Muguruza on Thursday, she also hit one of her fastest serves ever.
Serving for the match at 5-0 in the second set, Williams smacked an ace down the center of the service box that registered 128.6 mph.
”I did not expect that,” she said after the match. ”I was like, `OK, I’m going to hit a big one, 200 (km/h). It went 207. I was like, `Wow.”’
”I think it’s my fastest that went in,” she added.
Williams is tied for the most aces at the tournament so far with Hungary’s Timea Babos at 15, though Babos, a first-round loser, only played one match.
FEELING HOT, HOT, HOT
Ice towels, ice vests and ambulances were on hand for players on a scorching Day 4 at the Australian Open.
Temperatures nearly reached 106 degrees in the afternoon.
An on-site meteorologist was monitoring the weather minute-by-minute to decide whether to delay matches or close the retractable roofs on the two main show courts as part of the so-called Extreme Heat Policy, tournament organizers said.
The roof remained open for Victoria Azarenka’s second-round match on Rod Laver Arena early in the day, which she won in 55 minutes.
”Even at 11 a.m. you could really feel it,” she said. ”I wasn’t sure if we were playing with closed roof or open roof. Right before the match I saw it was closed. I thought, `Wow, good. It wouldn’t be so hot. It wasn’t a problem.”’
Not so. The roof was open — it is an outdoor tournament, after all.
As part of the tournament’s tradition, high heat entitles the women to an extra 10-minute break between the second and third sets.
Fans, meanwhile, were advised to ”slip, slop, slap.” That’s Australian code for: ”Slip on a shirt, Slop on sunscreen and Slap on a hat.”