Japanese veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm is no stranger to creating tennis history.
In 1994 she became the first Japanese player ranked in the top 10 and today, some 19 years later, she became the oldest woman in the Open era to win a main draw match at the Australian Open.
The 42 year-old upstaged No. 12 seed Nadia Petrova in their first round showdown on court 6, winning 6-2 6-0 in just over an hour.
“Of course I'm very happy to win today, but I don't play for the record,” Date-Krumm said. “Even (if I) lose, I'm still enjoying.”
Date Krumm continues to defy her age, with this the latest chapter in what has been a remarkable career.
She made her grand slam debut in 1989 and reached the quarter-finals or better at all four Grand Slams before she retired in 1997. She returned to the tour in 2008 and finished in the top 100 after her first full season in 2009.
Date Krumm further etched her name in the history books when she won a tour title in Seoul in 2009. It was 12 years since her last title, the longest gap between title wins in WTA Tour history. She also beat Australian Samantha Stosur in 2010, becoming the first 40 year-old to beat a top 10 opponent.
Her opponent today Nadia Petrova was considered no easy beat before the match. The 30-year-old Russian was playing in her 14th Australian Open main draw, the most of any women in the draw, and coming off a stellar 2012 season that netted three titles and pushed her ranking on the verge of the top 10.
The Japanese veteran made a strong start, racing to a 4-0 lead only dropping six points. Petrova was being undone by unforced errors early but started to find her range, getting one break back.
Date Krumm, currently ranked 100, then broke back in the seventh game and served out the set, taking it 6-2 in 35 minutes. She hit 11 winners and 12 unforced errors to Petrova’s four winners and 20 unforced errors, the telling stat of the set.
The second set was more comprehensive, with Date Krumm racing through it 6-0 in 28 minutes.
Petrova finished 38 unforced errors for the match to bow out in the first round at the tournament for the first time since 2004.
Date Krumm could not wipe the smile after the match and who could blame her, after it all it was her first main draw win at Melbourne Park in 17 years.
Date Krumm’s focus is now on recovery ahead a second round clash with Israel’s Shahar Peer, who beat Russian Alexandra Panova 6-4 1-6 6-3 earlier today.