The dream run of 42-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm came to an end in the third round, with 21-year-old Bojana Jovanovski – exactly half her age – taking her out of the Australian Open with a 6-2 7-6 (3) win.
It was a spirited fight from Date-Krumm, who equaled her 1995 third-round effort a year after her run to the semifinals at Melbourne Park in 1994.
Jovanovski moves into the fourth round to face No.29 Sloane Stephens, who took out Laura Robson in a battle of up and comers earlier in the day.
Show Court 2 was jam-packed for what turned out to be an early-evening match thanks to long battles that preceded it. Jovanovski, the world No.56, leapt to an early 4-1 lead after being broken to start the match. She closed the first set in 39 minutes, winning it 6-2.
"I tried to put on pressure to her, but she didn't mistake in the most important point," Date-Krumm said.
In the second it looked as though the Serbian would run away with the match as she broke to start and claimed a 2-0 lead. But Date-Krumm, who had taken out No.12 seed Nadia Petrova to open the tournament, wouldn’t wilt. The former world No.4 claimed leads of 3-2 and 4-3, but serving to go up 5-3, Date-Krumm was broken by Jovanovski after a long exchange which ended with a winner from the Serb. Jovanovski held for 5-4, swinging the momentum back in her favour.
Yet Date-Krumm would hold and then break for 6-5, giving herself the opportunity to serve for the set. Once again Jovanovksi, who owns one career title from Baku a year ago, raised the level of her game to force a tiebreak.
It was there that Jovanovski kept her level a step above Date-Krumm’s, ending their furious baseline exchanges with steady winners in the corners. As the crowd grew louder, so too did the grunting from both players. Jovanovksi seized the moment, however, finishing the match with five straight points in a flurry of scintillating tennis.
"She plays so good today. I never see like this," Date-Krumm noted. "So many times we practice together. Sometimes she make the easy miss. But today her balls is so deep, she can control everything."
The win by Jovanovski ends what has been a banner week in singles for Date-Krumm, who made her Grand Slam debut in 1989 at the French Open. She reached as high as No.4 in the world, but retired prematurely in 1996 and didn’t return to the pro tour until 2008 – at age 38.
At 42, Date-Krumm came into the Australian Open 2013 ranked No.100, just barely within the cutoff for the main draw. But following her win over Petrova she beat former top 20 player Shahar Peer in straight sets in the second round, advancing her to the third round of a major for the first time since she was a semifinalist at Wimbledon in 1996.
She remains in the doubles with partner Arantxa Parra Santonja. In the third round they take on Varvara Lepchenko and Saisai Zheng.
“[Right] now I'm very disappointed. But still it's just start the season,” Date-Krumm told the press after her loss. “It was great tournament for me. Of course, ranking also little bit more after this tournament going more higher. So I try to keep my level and, yeah, keep fighting and we will see.”