Thu, Oct 01, 2009 - Page 18 News List

Date Krumm turns back clock with latest triumph

COMEBACK QUEEN The last time the 39-year-old Japanese won a trophy, the Spice Girls were topping the charts and Bill Clinton was US president

REUTERS , TOKYO

Japan’s Kimiko Date Krumm has apologized for fibbing after winning her first title on the WTA Tour title in 13 years.

The former world No. 4 had warned not to expect a Rocky-style comeback in April last year when she announced her return to the professional game aged 37.

But after her knockout run at last week’s Korea Open, overpowering Spain’s Anabel Medina Garrigues in the final a day shy of her 39th birthday, Date Krumm apologized.

“I didn’t mean to tell fibs,” Japan’s most successful player said. “I just knew playing on the WTA Tour after a 12-year blank wouldn’t be a walk in the park.”

“I didn’t know how far I could go. Then I started to get a hunger for winning again so I put my housewife duties on hold as tennis was my biggest priority,” she said, adding: “My husband understands.”

Date Krumm’s last trophy came when the Spice Girls were topping the charts and Bill Clinton was still US president.

Her win in Seoul came as a huge surprise to the Japanese.

“It was a shock to win a tournament again of course,” said Date Krumm, in flip-flops and with three of her toes wrapped in plasters after suffering blisters during her run in Korea.

“When I came back, at first I just wanted to have fun,” Date Krumm said. “I also wanted to give a boost to Japanese players. Now I feel I have a bit of a chance.”

“I was losing [all eight of her WTA events since returning] in the first round. At times I thought winning would be impossible after 12 years out and given my age. Playing well and winning are totally different things,” Date Krumm said.

“I did struggle with the thought I’d reached my limit but it’s not like I was losing matches 6-0, 6-0,” she said.

Date Krumm abruptly retired from tennis in 1996 after reaching the semi-finals at Wimbledon where she had Steffi Graf on the ropes until rain saved the German.

Her eighth tour title tasted sweeter for Date Krumm.

“I knew it would be tough,” she said. “But perhaps not quite this tough.”

“I don’t know where I get the energy. Recovery is so important at my age. Young players don’t need to worry so much but I have to make sure I eat, drink and sleep correctly,” she said.

Date Krumm plans to play into her 40s after putting plans to start a family with German racing driver husband Michael Krumm on the back-burner.

“Next year of course I would like another crack at the Grand Slams,” she said. “But I probably have two, three years max, left in me, then I’ll stop.”

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