Belgium’s Yanina Wickmayer won a battle of the generations yesterday over 39-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 in opening group play at the Bali Tournament of Champions.
The field at the US$600,000 tournament comprises the 10 highest ranking players who have won a WTA International title this year but who did not compete in the season-ending WTA Championships in Qatar, which finished on Sunday.
Wickmayer, 20, a surprise US Open semi-finalist two months ago, gave away nearly two decades to her evergreen opponent, who is renewing her career after a decade-long pause.
The veteran Japanese, who returned to the WTA last year and claimed lower-level ITF titles in Tokyo and Monzon, Spain last season, capped her comeback by winning Seoul in September to qualify into the Bali field.
Asia’s only entry in the 12-woman event now has it all to do for a possible place in Saturday’s semi-finals at the event played inside a huge hotel ballroom on the Indonesian resort island.
The 101-ranked Date-Krumm, who is married to German racing driver Michael Krumm, lost serve five times as her younger European opponent took charge, never allowing the veteran a chance to turn the tide.
Wickmayer’s victory in just over 90 minutes was her 55th of a breakthrough season in which she won both of her career titles.
France claimed a pair of opening-day wins with top seed Marion Bartoli and Aravane Rezai earning group victories
Rezai, winner of the title at Strasbourg before Roland Garros, took one hour 44 minutes to secure victory over upcoming German Sabine Lisicki.
The 12-ranked Frenchwoman kept the pressure on the 20-year-old world No. 25, forcing her to save 11 of 14 break points.
The 44th-ranked Rezai came through to victory despite seven double-faults.
Bartoli, who played the final at this tropical resort three years ago against Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova when the event was a regular WTA season tournament, started her campaign over Slovakia’s Magdalena Rybarikova 6-4, 6-4.
Bartoli won two titles this year that put her into the Bali field, taking wins at Monterrey and Stanford.
The top seed secured her opening victory after losing serve only once and breaking three times, including in the penultimate game.
Bartoli improved to 47-21 this season.
In the concluding match on yesterday’s program, Australian second seed Samantha Stosur, who has had only a day to get acclimated after arriving Monday night from Doha, began her campaign with a match against Hungary’s Agnes Szavay.
The match was still in progress at press time.