Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Date-Krumm, 44, rallies to shock Lisicki at Stanford

Kimiko Date-Krumm, 44, stunned Sabine Lisicki, the Wimbledon runner-up
two years ago, after trailing 6-1, 4-1 (two service breaks). Photo by Mal Taam

   STANFORD, Calif. -- The legend of Kimiko Date-Krumm continues to grow.
   The 44-year-old Japanese qualifier overcame a huge deficit to shock Sabine Lisicki, the 2013 Wimbledon runner-up from Germany, 1-6, 7-6 (4), 6-2 late tonight in the first round of the Bank of the West Classic at the Taube Family Tennis Stadium.
   Date-Krumm trailed the 25-year-old Lisicki 6-1, 4-1 (two service breaks) but fought back to serve for the match. Date-Krumm earned three match points at 40-0, but Lisicki saved the first two. On the third, a Date-Krumm forehand smacked the tape and plopped over the net for a winner.
   "In the beginning, it was not easy to adjust to her power," said the 5-foot-4 (1.63-meter), 117-pound (53-kilogram) Date-Krumm, who coincidentally is married to a German race car driver. "I just tried my best and focused on the ball."
   Lisicki, 5-foot-10 (1.78 meters), owns two women's serving records. She fired a 131-mph (210.8-kph) missile in a first-round loss to Ana Ivanovic in last year's Bank of the West Classic and blasted 27 aces in a match in Birmingham, England, seven weeks ago.
   Lisicki, ranked 24th, had been 3-0 against Date-Krumm. In their first meeting since 2011, Lisicki had eight aces and six double faults tonight to Date-Krumm's none and three, respectively.
   Date-Krumm reached the semifinals of the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon in the mid-1990s and climbed to a career-high No. 4 in the world 20 years ago. Burned out, she retired at 26 years old for 11 1/2 years. Here's my 2011 story on Date-Krumm.
   Injuries dropped Date-Krumm's ranking below 200 in June, relegating her to tennis' minor leagues. She advanced to the semifinals in Stockton and the quarterfinals in Sacramento last month, raising her ranking to No. 173 entering Stanford.
   Date-Krumm will play fourth-seeded Karolina Pliskova, a 6-foot-1 (1.86-meter) Czech who received a first-round bye, in the Bank of the West for the second straight year on Thursday. Pliskova won 6-1, 6-3 in the opening round in 2014 to even her career record against Date-Krumm at 1-1..
   Earlier tonight, Angelique Kerber faced a dangerous first-round match.
Fifth-seeded Angelique Kerber, last year's runner-up,
dismissed Daria Gavrilova 6-1, 6-3 in 65 minutes. The
match was expected to be closer. Photo by Mal Taam
   Yes, the 2014 Bank of the West runner-up was 2-0 against her opponent, Daria Gavrilova. But in their last meeting, Kerber prevailed in a tough three-setter in the second round at Sydney in January.
   Futhermore, this was Kerber's first match in one month. She lost to eventual finalist Garbine Muguruza in the third round at Wimbledon.
   Wary of the pitfalls, the fifth-seeded Kerber dismissed Gavrilova 6-1, 6-3 in 65 minutes.
   "I played against her twice before, and it was always tough, so I knew that I should play very well to beat her," said Kerber, who also beat Gavrilova 6-3, 7-5 in the second round at Brisbane the week before Sydney. "And it's always tough to play a match after such a long time. I'm actually very happy about my performance tonight."
   Kerber, a 27-year-old left-hander from Germany, seeks her fourth title of the year after winning Charleston on outdoor clay, Stuttgart on indoor clay and Birmingham on grass. Ranked as high as No. 5 in October 2012, she has fallen to No. 14.
   It didn't hurt Kerber's chances of winning Stanford when defending champion Serena Williams withdrew Friday with a right elbow injury.
   Gavrilova won the U.S. Open girls title in 2010 and attained a junior ranking of No. 1 in the world that year. She tore her right ACL in November 2013, underwent surgery and missed the first half of 2014. In her first tournament back, the 5-foot-5 (1.66-meter) Gavrilova won the doubles title in the Sacramento Challenger with Storm Sanders of Australia.
Daria Gavrilova, shown Tuesday night,  beat second-ranked
Maria Sharapova in Miami in March and reached the Rome
semifinals as a qualifier in May. Photo by Mal Taam
   Gavrilova, who beat second-ranked Maria Sharapova in Miami in March and reached the Rome semifinals as a qualifier in May, has climbed to No. 41.
   The 21-year-old Moscow native is awaiting Australian citizenship. Until then, she represents Russia in WTA tournaments and Australia in Grand Slam events.
   Kerber will meet 17-year-old Ana Konjuh of Croatia on Thursday in the second round. Konjuh, who beat Saisai Zheng of China 6-3, 6-4, became the WTA's youngest titlist in nine years when she won Nottingham on grass in June.
   During the day session, eighth-seeded Elina Svitolina, 20, defeated qualifier Kateryna Bondarenko, who will turn 29 on Saturday, 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 in a 2-hour, 31-minute battle of Ukrainians. Svitolina, who reached the French Open quarterfinals in June, trailed 5-3 in the third set.
   Bondarenko took a year and a half off the tour, beginning in 2012, to give birth to daughter Karin and spend time with her new family. Karin and her father, Denis Volodko, were in the stands on Tuesday, according to tennisnow.com.
   Svitolina will face local favorite Nicole Gibbs, a 22-year-old qualifier, in Wednesday night's late match. Gibbs won the 2012 and 2013 NCAA singles titles before turning pro out of Stanford.
   Varvara Lepchenko, a Bank of the West semifinalist last year, edged Mirjana Lucic-Baroni of Croatia 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 (4). Lepchenko, a 29-year-old native of Uzbekistan, became a U.S. citizen in 2011.
   CiCi Bellis, 16, of neighboring Atherton ended her first Bank of the West Classic with an opening-round doubles loss. Second-seeded Anabel Medina Garrigues and Arantxa Parra Santonja of Spain defeated wild cards Bellis and Jacqueline Cako, a 23-year-old former All-American at Arizona State, 6-4, 7-6 (4). 
   It was Medina Garrigues' first WTA match since she was named the Co-Female MVP of World TeamTennis for the California Dream. The Sacramento-based team lost to the host Austin Aces in the Western Conference Championship on Thursday in its inaugural season.
   Cako (pronounced CAY-ko) asked Bellis to play doubles after her original partner, Sachia Vickery of Miramar, Fla., suffered an injury in a first-round qualifying loss. Vickery reached the singles quarterfinals in last year's Bank of the West Classic as a 19-year-old qualifier.
   Bellis, who made headlines by stunning 12th-seeded Dominika Cibulkova in the first round of last year's U.S. Open, lost to qualifier Misaki Doi, 24, of Japan 6-3, 7-6 (3) on Monday in the opening round of singles at Stanford.  
At Stanford
First-round singles
   Varvara Lepchenko, United States, def. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, Croatia, 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 (4).
   Ana Konjuh, Croatia, def. Saisai Zheng, China, 6-3, 6-4.
   Elina Svitolina (8), Ukraine, def. Kateryna Bondarenko, Ukraine, 4-6, 6-4, 7-5.
   Ajla Tomljanovic, Croatia, def. Vitalia Diatchenko, Russia, 3-6, 6-0, 6-0.
   Angelique Kerber (5), Germany, def. Daria Gavrilova, Russia, 6-1, 6-3.
   Kimiko Date-Krumm, Japan, def. Sabine Lisicki, Germany, 1-6, 7-6 (4), 6-2. 
First-round doubles 
   Anbel Medina Garrigues and Arantxa Parra Santonja (2), Spain, def. CiCi Bellis and Jacqueline Cako, United States, 6-4, 7-6 (4).
   Gabriela Dabrowski, Canada, and Alicja Rosolska (3), Poland, def. Aleksandra Krunic, Serbia, and Andrea Petkovic, Germany, 4-6, 7-6 (4) [12-10].
   Yi-Fan Xu and Saisai Zheng, China, def. Klaudia Jans-Ignacik, Poland, and Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, Croatia, 6-4, 3-6 [10-4].
Wednesday's schedule
Stadium Court
(Starting at 11 a.m.)
   Andrea Petkovic (6), Germany, vs. Mona Barthel, Germany.
(Not before 1 p.m.)
   Carla Suarez Navarro (3), Spain, vs. Alison Riske, United States.
   Raquel Kops-Jones and Maria Sanchez (4), United States, vs. Mona Barthel and Sabine Lisicki, Germany.
(Not before 7 p.m.)
   Madison Keys (7), United States, vs. Ajla Tomljanovic, Croatia.
   Elina Svitolina (8), Ukraine, vs. Nicole Gibbs, United States.
Court 6
(Starting at 2 p.m.)
   Chin-Wei Chan, Taiwan, and Darija Jurak, Croatia, vs. Vitalia Diatchenko, Russia, and Anna Tatishvili, United States.

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