Japan’s Kimiko Date-Krumm won an exciting three-set contest against Alexandra Stevenson of the US to reach the second round of the singles at the Taipei Ladies Open yesterday.
In the pick of the opening day’s matches at the Taipei Arena, last year’s beaten finalist had to dig deep to earn a 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7/5) victory over the 1.85m American, whose powerful groundstrokes and big, if erratic, serving proved to be a handful.
“[Stevenson] is very tall, and she has, of course, power and a big serve, so it was a very tough match,” Date-Krumm said after the contest.
“If her first serve was in I had no chance, I couldn’t do anything, so I was always thinking: ‘Please don’t let her first serve be in,’” Date-Krumm joked.
After the Japanese won the first set, Stevenson displayed some of the talent that has taken her as high as No. 18 in the world rankings, to bounce back to claim the second.
The one-time Wimbledon semi-finalists then fought it out in the third, and Date-Krumm, 42, who reached the last four at the All England Club in 1996, was immediately in trouble, dropping her serve in the first game.
Stevenson, 31, who was a semi-finalist at Wimbledon in 1999, then dropped her serve in the fourth game. There was another exchange of breaks and the trainer came on to attend to Stevenson before the American served to stay in the match at 4-5 down.
Almost before she knew it, Stevenson was facing three match points at 0-40, but survived to eventually take the contest into a deciding tiebreak.
The world No. 413 saved another match point with a courageous forehand at 5-6 down in the tiebreak, but was powerless to stop a forehand winner from Date-Krumm on the next point, which brought the 2 hour, 23 minute contest to an end.
Despite her defeat, Stevenson hit 17 aces, showing that the shoulder problems that have blighted her career have not blunted her firepower. However, her nine double faults proved costly, and in the end, Date-Krumm’s consistency prevailed.
“It was difficult to get into a rhythm, so I tried to keep my motivation,” Date-Krumm said. “I just focused on every point in the tiebreak.”
“She had a big chance, but today I was lucky, I think,” Date-Krumm added.
Earlier, Thailand’s Tamarine Tanasugarn beat eighth-seed Greta Arn of Hungary 6-1, 4-6, 7-5, while both Taiwanese players in action yesterday were early casualties.
Kurumi Nara of Japan accounted for Lee Ya-hsuan and Hong Kong’s Ling Zhang proved too strong for Juan Ting-fei, winning 6-1, 6-3 in just under an hour and a quarter.