MELBOURNE, Australia — Veteran Kimiko Date Krumm blew a chance to upset 12th-seeded Pole Agnieszka Radwanska but compatriot Ayumi Morita defeated Romania’s Alexandra Dulgheru in the first round of the Australian Open on Tuesday.
Radwanska came back from a 4-1 deficit in the third set to deny the 40-year-old former world No. 4 her first win in 15 years at the Grand Slam event by a score of 6-4, 4-6, 7-5.
Date Krumm served eight double faults and made a massive 72 unforced errors, compared to 42 for Radwanska at Melbourne Park.
Radwanska, ranked 14th in the world, took a medical timeout for a lower back massage when she was down 4-1 in the deciding set. She then evened the score at 4-4 and went on to take the match, Date Krumm sending a forehand into the net on the last point.
“It was a very tough match,” Date Krumm said. “I always have a problem after my opponent gets a medical timeout. My body was getting cold and I had a little cramp in my leg after that, which made it difficult for me to concentrate on the ball.
“It’s not illegal to get a medical timeout, but for my age, it’s not easy. I’ll ask my physio or doctor in Japan how to keep my level of play high even when a match is interrupted by such a timeout. I don’t want to lose like that any more.”
Later Tuesday, Morita picked up her first career win at the Australian Open by beating 27th-seeded Dulgheru 6-4, 6-4. The 20-year-old converted four of the six break points she held.
“I just tried to play my tennis without thinking about winning too much,” Morita said. “I’m happy that I was able to beat a seeded player.”
Elsewhere, Rafael Nadal’s quest to complete his “Rafa Slam” started with a first-round victory that lasted only 11 games and certainly helped him conserve plenty of energy.
The No. 1-ranked Nadal went straight to the practice courts and worked on his serve, later saying it needs work to improve his chances of winning the Australian title.
The 24-year-old Spaniard led 6-0, 5-0 when Marcos Daniel retired with a left knee injury.
Nadal could sympathize with Daniel, recalling he’d had to retire from the last Australian Open with an injured knee in the quarterfinals against Murray. But Nadal recovered from that setback and won the next three majors and is now aiming to be the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four Grand Slam trophies at the same time.
“It’s a terrible feeling, for sure. I wish him all the best for a fast recovery,” Nadal said after the match. “Last year was a really difficult time when I played this tournament. I came back here playing well . . . but to go out like that was hard mentally.
Andy Murray, the 2010 finalist, also advanced when Karol Beck retired with a shoulder injury in the third set of their first-round match. The fifth-seeded Murray, who was leading 6-3, 6-1, 4-2, was the only man to beat Nadal in a Grand Slam tournament last year, the quarterfinals at Melbourne Park.
“You’d rather finish the match off without your opponent being hurt,” Murray said, “but it does happen quite a lot. So you just have to move on and get yourself ready for the next round.”
Fourth-seeded Robin Soderling had to go the distance but was rarely challenged, completing a 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 win over Potito Starace of Italy.