OSAKA, Japan - Tamarine Tanasugarn kept Kimiko Date Krumm from a fairytale ending but wrote her own in Osaka on Sunday, claiming her fourth career Sony Ericsson WTA Tour title at the second annual HP Open.
Date Krumm had become the story of the tournament, upsetting No.1 seed Samantha Stosur and No.3 seed Shahar Peer in the quarters and semis, playing nearly three hours in both matches - and her win over the No.8-ranked Stosur made her the first 40-something ever to beat a Top 10 player.
"She's a strong opponent and made the finals of Roland Garros this year, so I'm very happy," Date Krumm said of the win over Stosur. "Everyone thought it was impossible, but impossible is nothing. Tennis isn't only speed and power - you play mentally. I used everything and played with nothing to lose."
Date Krumm, seeded No.6 herself, was also trying to become the first 40-something ever to win a title, but the unseeded Tanasugarn was building her own momentum on the other half of the draw, battling her way into the semis and then beating No.2 seed Marion Bartoli in a Saturday surprise, 62 75.
With a combined age of 73, two of Asia's most recognizable female athletes, the Japanese and Thai No.1s, were playing the oldest known final ever.
For three hours and seven minutes, the two battled it out on Centre Court with their pinpoint groundstrokes and world class tenacity. It was Tanasugarn's match early on, as she built a 75 31 lead; Date Krumm fought back to take it to a third set, but once she got there maybe her earlier matches caught up to her, as Tanasugarn cruised to a 75 67(4) 61 victory and her fourth career title.
"I tried to be more aggressive in the third set and I finally made it," Tanasugarn commented after the victory. "Osaka is a great city. This is a great feeling and hopefully I can continue to play like this and get a good start to 2011. Now I'll have three days vacation on the beach when I get back, then I'll be playing in Taipei and probably Toyota, followed by the Asian Games."
Tanasugarn's first three titles came on hardcourts at Hyderabad in 2003 and on grass courts in 's-Hertogenbosch in back-to-back years in 2008 and 2009.
Date Krumm was trying to break the oldest title winner record held by Billie Jean King, who won Birmingham in 1983 at age 39 years and seven months; Date Krumm is second, winning Seoul last year at 38 years and 11 months.
"I just tried my best and fought as hard as I could," Date Krumm said. "Nobody wants to lose, so I tried everything. Now I'll play some ITF events followed by the Asian Games - so I'll be continuing to play tennis the rest of the year."
In a quicker contest, No.3 seeds Chang Kai-Chen and Lilia Osterloh beat Shuko Aoyama and Rika Fujiwara in 54 minutes in the doubles final, 60 63. Chang won her first Tour title of any kind, Osterloh her third Tour doubles title.