Wimbledon: S. Williams d. Date Krumm
Kimiko Date Krumm was on a run for the ages, but Serena Williams had time on her side, history in her sights and plenty of purpose behind her shots to continue her career-best winning streak.
The world No. 1 overwhelmed the world's oldest Top 100 player, 6-2, 6-0, to extend her winning streak to 34 matches and roar into the Wimbledon fourth round without dropping a set. It was a milestone match for Serena, who collected her 600th career victory and 70th career Wimbledon win.
The 31-year-old Williams took the court with respect for the 42-year-old Date Krumm, who made history as the oldest woman in the Open Era to reach the Wimbledon third round. Two years ago, Serena watched the once-retired Date Krumm wage a fierce fight against older sister Venus Williams before falling, 6-7 (8), 6-3, 8-6 in the Wimbledon second round. Intent on a fast start to avoid a long night, Serena opened the match with an ace and closed the first game with another ace for a love hold.
Playing beneath the closed Centre Court roof the sound of the ball erupting off Williams' strings was heavier and her drives were deeper as she broke with a backhand winner crosscourt for 3-1 before swatting her sixth ace out wide to consolidate with an emphatic "come on!" for a 4-1 advantage.
Date Krumm has the lithe physique of a distance runner —she completed the 2004 London Marathon in under three-and-a-half hours — and looks like she's spent a lifetime of changeovers guzzling from the fountain of youth. When she made her Wimbledon debut in 1989, 59 women in this year's singles field weren't born yet and her flat strokes look so old-school you wonder if Aristotle was her first teacher. A natural lefty who plays right-handed, she anticipates the direction of the ball shrewdly, her backswings are so brief it's tough to read her low drives and she's still astonishingly quick around the court.
The veteran made a final spirited stand as the champion served for the first set at 5-1. Kimiko cracked a backhand down the line and Serena squealed when her loopy running forehand reply sailed wide as she dropped serve for 5-2. The crowd roared in appreciation for Date Krumm's effort and willingness to throw everything she had at Williams, but Serena proceeded to press the mute button. Williams turned up the heat on her serve — Serena hit eight aces, dropped serve just once and her average second serve speed (91 MPH) was faster than Kimiko's first-serve speed (88 MPH).
In an era of power-based baseline tennis, Date Krumm's throwback style of play presents a quirky challenge in that many top players use power to strong-arm their way through points, the 5'4" Japanese is skilled at redirecting pace and using her court sense and quick feet to take time away from opponents. Williams simply has too many weapons to be troubled; Serena not only hits harder she hits with more spin and more margin for error. The 16-time Grand Slam champion won 12 of the first 15 points to start the second set and never looked back. It was an entertaining, if inevitable, encounter that ended with the festive Saturday night crowd showering both women with applause as a smiling Serena high-fived a fan before stopping to sign autographs.
Watching the 42-year-old Kimiko run with Serena in a few corner-to-corner rallies was a reminder of an eternal appeal of the game — tennis truly is a sport for a lifetime for those willing to keep swinging — while reinforcing the fact that the post-30 Serena's best tennis is still very much ahead of her. Williams faces a much more explosive opponent in big-serving Sabine Lisicki for a quarterfinal spot.
IBM Stat of the Match: Date-Krumm got little help from her serve, winning only 31 percent of her first-serve points (10 of 32).
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