Japan’s Date bows out in tears after ‘double bagel’
Japan’s Date bows out in tears after ‘double bagel’
The former world No. 4, who turns 47 later this month, was simply no match for a Serbian opponent who at 24 is young enough to be Date’s daughter.
Krunic took just 49 minutes to inflict the dreaded “double bagel” on Date in a lopsided first round encounter in Tokyo.
Date tried gamely to mix up her shots in the second set but to no avail as Krunic, ranked 67th in the world, blasted winners past her at will.
Krunic continued to swing away from the baseline and put the former Wimbledon semi-finalist out of her misery with a huge forehand which Date could only dump into the net.
“It’s finally over,” a tearful Date told fans, many of whom were themselves sobbing.
“I feel sad mostly, I guess, but also really grateful for what tennis has given me,” said the eight-time WTA Tour singles champion, who took a 12-year hiatus from professional tennis after quitting at the peak of her powers in 1996.
Date, a wiry 1.63 metres (5ft 4in), underwent two knee surgeries since appearing at the 2016 Australian Open, but defied the odds to return to action in May this year.
The Kyoto native, presented with flowers and a trophy in an emotional ceremony after the match, has also been nursing a sore shoulder and it showed against Krunic.
“A lot of things were going through my head this morning but during the match I was just trying everything I could to win a game,” said Date after taking just 13 points off her opponent.
“I just didn’t have it physically. It feels strange to be retired but I have to accept it. At the end I was relieved I hadn't made my shoulder worse.”
Date, whose game is a throwback to a time when tennis was more about lobs, dinks and clever use of spin than power-hitting, showed brief glimpses of her former pomp.
However, after warming up to Donna Summer’s “Hot Stuff”, Date was largely anything but and lacked the power to trouble Krunic, who after embracing Date told her she had started the match as a nervous wreck.
“I want to apologize,” she said after completing the whitewash. “I don’t like that I had to be the one but Kimiko has had a great career.
“I was a mess at the beginning,” added Krunic, who next faces American Alison Riske.
“When I go back to the locker room, I’ll probably cry.”
Date broke several tennis records, most notably at the Korea Open in 2009 when she became the second-oldest player in the modern era — after Billie Jean King — to win a WTA singles title.
Despite playing on until the ripe old age of 46, Date still fell some way short of her idol Martina Navratilova, who retired a month shy of her 50th birthday in 2006.
Date insisted she had no desire to become a coach in the future.
“No, I’m definitely not cut out for that,” she laughed. “But I don’t feel like I did when I first retired and didn't want to go near a tennis court again. I think I'll stick to just watching.”
Elsewhere, Poland's Magda Linette beat local player Risa Ozaki 6-1, 7-5 to set up a meeting with third seed Elise Mertens of Belgium.
Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic, the tournament's top seed, had her first-round match with Croatian Jana Fett pushed back to Wednesday because of rain.
LIVE: Mohamed Salah in the side as Egypt face Russia
9.05PM: Russia commanding the early stages and looking likely to score...our man Salah yet to make a considerable impact...
8.55PM: The anthems have been sung - a rousing rendition from the Russians - and we're ready to get this game under way...
8.50PM: And here he is — Salah is out warming up and looking ok, well at least from out vantage he is...
8.40PM: At the risk of stating the obvious, all eyes will be on Salah tonight. In Saint Petersburg, the city of Russian royalty, can he live up to the mantle of Egyptian King? There's little doubting Cuper's side need him to be at or near his best, can his shoulder take the strain, both literally and metaphorically?
For Russia the lineup is as expected, Cheryshev starts having come of the bench against Saudi Arabia and scored a brilliant brace.
8.30PM: Both lineups are out here they are...
RUSSIA Akinfeev, Fernandes, Kutepov, Ignashevich, Zhirkov, Zobnin, Gazinsky, Samedov, Golovin, Cheryshev, Dzyuba. Subs: Lunev, Semenov, Kuzyaev, Dzagoev, Smolov, Kudryashov, Granat, Aleksey Miranchuk, Anton Miranchuk, Erokhin, Smolnikov, Gabulov.
EGYPT El Shenawy, Fathi, Gabr, Hegazi, Abdel-Shafy, Hamed, Elneny, Salah, Said, Trezeguet, Mohsen. Subs: El Hadary, Elmohamady, Gaber, Morsy, Kahraba, Ashraf, Sobhi, Hamdy, Shikabala, Samir, Warda, Ekramy.
8.20PM: There is little doubt the return of Salah will give the Pharaohs a big boost, just a quick glance at his stats during his record-breaking season at Liverpool will tell you why..
8PM — BIG NEWS: Egypt go into the crunch clash against Russia knowing defeat will all but end their hopes of making it to the second round, but also buoyed by the return of their talisman, Mohamed Salah.
The Egyptian ace has been named, as expected, in Hector Cuper’s starting XI to face the hosts in Saint Petersburg having missed the 1-0 defeat to Uruguay on Friday.
It may be expecting too much to expect the 26-year-old to provide the spark so missing from Egypt’s loss to the South Americans — there is still some confusion over just how well his shoulder has recovered since injuring it in the Champions League final — but there is little doubt that for all the side’s calm and poise in possession they lacked a cutting edge and Cuper is doubtless hoping Salah can provide it this evening.
The hosts come into the match relaxed and, thanks to the Salah show, not the center of attention. Their 5-0 opening-day win over Saudi Arabia has both removed doubts about the side’s ability and set them up well for a stab at making the knockout stages.
Can Salah upset their home party? The next few hours will tell.