Kimiko Date-Krumm, 42, calls longevity ‘a miracle’

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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA (AP) - Kimiko Date-Krumm is amazed she’s still playing Grand Slam tennis at 42.

“It’s a miracle,” she said.

After a week of setting age-related records and becoming the media darling of this year’s Australian Open, the Japanese player lost her third-round singles match on Saturday.

“It was a great tournament for me,” Date-Krumm said after a 6-2, 7-6 (3) loss to 21-year-old Serbian Bojana Jovanovski.

In a sport dominated with women half her age, it was a great tournament for Date-Krumm.

This was her 43rd time playing a Grand Slam tournament _ and she was the oldest woman in the draw by about a decade. The only other player who came close was 33-year-old Greta Arn of Hungary _ who lost in the first round.

Date-Krumm is ranked 100th but defied the ranking system. She created a stir by beating No. 12-seeded Nadia Petrova _ who is 30 _ 6-2, 6-0 in the first round and becoming the oldest woman to win a singles match at the Australian Open.

During the week, she held court at packed press conferences and fielded questions about her secrets to longevity.

“Sleep a lot. Drink water a lot. It’s nothing special,” she said, noting that she’s older than some of her opponents’ mothers.

Date-Krumm, who is married to German race car driver Michael Krumm, took a 12-year break from tennis and returned in 2008. When she came back, she never planned to play at the Grand Slam level.

“So, yeah, it’s a miracle I was in the third round this year,” she said. “I’m very surprised myself.”

She recounted amusing conversations with her peers, like Steffi Graf and Lindsay Davenport, who retired years ago and started families.

“Everybody says to me, `You are crazy,’ first word is always, `You are crazy,’” she said, laughing. “But they support me a lot.”

Date-Krumm’s best result at the Australian Open came in 1994 when she reached the semifinals. She achieved a career-high ranking of No. 4 in 1995.

She admitted finding it tough to keep up with this generation of fitness fanatics, whose raw power has changed the women’s game.

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