Google Down the Line!: The 40-year old victor

Monday, September 27, 2010

The 40-year old victor

How dare she.

Kimiko Date Krumm, the now 40-year old lady baller (this is based on Tokyo time - Happy Birthday Kimi!), grabbed her fifth Top 20 scalp of the season this time off the multi-million dollar head of defending champ Maria Sharapova who she upset 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 in the first round of Tokyo. It's like she doesn't realize she started playing before some of the WTA pros started breathing. What's more, Kimi isn't phased by all this talk of power in the ladies' game and how it's changed the game for better or worse. Her response seems to be, "Who the hell needs it?"

The ladies can hit powerfully and the game has become more physical but the newbies and oldbies can still hang. That's not a knock on the WTA tour, though, or a reference to the perceived lack of depth or mental toughness amongst the lady ballers. See, what's so awesome about Kimi's recent achievements is she has given old-school tennis a small, but very effective, place in the modern game.

Of course, supreme fitness - which was born during The Age of Williams - has been key to her big wins this year including on the red clay of Roland Garros against Dinara Safina and against Shrieka, who reacted to the loss by saying, "It takes a lot to come back and Kimiko is extremely fit." Take that fitness, then, and mix in a dash of savvy court sense, an ability to close at the net and a big heart and you've got win.

Let's be real, though: Kimi's not winning any Slams. We all know it. But could a development coach or an aspiring mom or dad coach learn a few winning strategies from a 40-year old with the gall to brandish a continental forehand in a world of westerns? Well, duh. Kimi obviously has tons to teach them.

[Photo(s): Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images]
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  1. Congratulations to Kimiko! I was thrilled for her when I heard the result!

    The Age of Williams? As in Venus and Serena? I think Martina may have something to say about when supreme fitness began, Richie. She may drop kick you to Jersey. ;)

  2. No - not Jersey. I'd do anything to avoid Jersey.

    Just meant the entire tour had to up the fitness ante when they started dominating - they made everything so physical. Martina certainly deserves credit for adding it and making it a point of difference in her time but you didn't see all the ladies training hardcore in the gyms. She was still in the minority.

    I think these days it's the opposite. It's odd if a lady baller isn't in the gym training and she probably isn't going to make a big impact until she does. During Martina's time they could still get away with not training hard. Not so much anymore.

    I'd love to hear your thoughts, natch, since you're in there up close and personal!

  3. I was going to mention Teaneck but wasn't sure if you knew where that was! ;)

    Hm. I see your perspective, but I have a different memory. (And God knows my memory is NOT a reliable source.) I seem to recall most of the women following in Martina's footsteps. It may have been eventual, though, not immediate. And wasn't it Lendl on the men's side who started the fitness craze?

    Anyway, I remember seeing Venus in '97 or '98 at the USO (when she had the beads) on a practice court and thinking that was the hardest I had ever seen a woman hit a ball. So maybe you are right on that. I just don't remember all the women rushing to work out harder. But then, as now, I was much more interested in the men. *coughs*


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