LONDON (AFP) –
Kimiko Date-Krumm, comfortably the oldest player at Wimbledon at 41, crashed out in the first round on Wednesday vowing to do everything in her power to return next year.
The Japanese number one, battling a left calf injury, lost 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 to Ukraine’s Kateryna Bondarenko on the 300-capacity Court 16, which was packed with Japanese fans.
The world number 82 gave away 21 break points in the match, which lasted just under two hours.
Date-Krumm, who reached the semi-finals in 1996 before retiring, made the second round last year, her joint best slam performance since returning to the tour in 2008.
Date-Krumm said she was advised by her doctors not to play due to her leg injury sustained at the French Open, but over-ruled them as Wimbledon holds special memories for her.
“Three days ago I was almost not playing here,” she told AFP.
“The doctor said don’t play. And the physio also said don’t play. It’s too much risk, especially my age.
“But Wimbledon is my favourite tournament. And then also I don’t know how many years I can play. I don’t know next year or two years later. Every year is almost the last year for me.
“I don’t want to give up, so I took the risk. I know the other players don’t like my ball, and it works, my ball on the grass. It’s not easy.
“Always the doctor is saying, ‘don’t take the risk’, but the player doesn’t want to give up all the time. So I think it was the right decision.”
The oldest player now left in the women’s draw is Italian 24th seed Francesca Schiavone at 32.
Bondarenko, ranked 66, took herself to match point with a lucky net cord and then winning when the Japanese fired long.
Date-Krumm’s compatriot Tatsuma Ito was knocked out in the men’s first round by Poland’s Lukasz Kubot in a match that took just minutes to complete.
The pair were rained off Tuesday at 30-30 with Kubot 7-6 (8/6), 6-3, 5-3 up and the higher-ranked Pole quickly completed victory over the Japanese number three.
The Indian pair are at the centre of a bitter row embroiling Indian tennis over the doubles pairings for the London 2012 Olympics, at which the tennis tournament will be contested at Wimbledon.
They both refused to play with the higher-ranked Leander Paes for a range of personal and professional reasons, in a spat that has even drawn in India’s foreign and sports ministers.
“Things couldn’t have got uglier for us in Indian tennis the last week,” Bhupathi said.
“Everyone has their opinion. Everyone probably stands by it. But from our point of view, we worked hard. He (Paes), definitely being the number one player in India, deserves to go, but he needs to deserve to go with someone who wants to play with him.”
Elsewhere in the men’s doubles opening round, Treat Conrad Huey of the Philippines and his British partner Dominic Inglot were beaten 4-6, 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (8/6), 9-7 by the Israeli duo Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram.