Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Tokyo — Japan’s Kimiko Date, the grande dame of women’s tennis, bowed out of the sport after being thrashed 6-0, 6-0 by Aleksandra Krunic at the Japan Women’s Open on Tuesday.

The former world No4, who turns 47 later in September, was no match for a Serbian opponent who at 24 is young enough to be Date’s daughter. Krunic took 49 minutes to inflict the dreaded "double bagel" on Date in a 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.

"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 Women’s Tennis Association Tour singles champion

The wiry 1.63m Date took a 12-year hiatus from professional tennis after quitting at the peak of her powers in 1996.

She underwent two knee surgeries since appearing at the 2016 Australian Open, but defied the odds to return to court action in May

The Kyoto native, presented with flowers and a trophy in an emotional ceremony after the match, has also been nursing a sore shoulder.

"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. "I just didn’t have it physically. It feels strange to be retired, but I have to accept it."

AFP

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