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Life begins at 43 as Kimiko Date-Krumm wins in Japan

updated 5:50 AM EDT, Wed October 9, 2013
Kimiko Date-Krumm shows no sign of retiring for a second time as she notches up another win in 2013.
Kimiko Date-Krumm shows no sign of retiring for a second time as she notches up another win in 2013.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Evergreen Kimiko Date-Krumm defeats teenager Laura Robson in Japan Open
  • The 43-year-old Japanese player is 24 years older than the British world No. 42
  • Novak Djokovic says rival Rafael Nadal deserves to be world No. 1
  • Roger Federer returns in Shanghai Masters for first match since U.S. Open

(CNN) -- A quarter of a century advantage is nothing new to Kimiko Date-Krumm.

The 43-year-old may be in the twilight of her career but these are still golden years for the evergreen player from Kyoto.

Date-Krumm defied a 24-year age gap to defeat British teenager Laura Robson 6-4 6-4 on home soil at the Japan Open.

In 1996, the Japanese retired from tennis after losing to 16-year-old Swiss Martina Hingis at the Chase Championships in New York.

But after returning to the circuit in 2008, Date-Krumm is now doling out defeats to the next generation of tennis starlets.

This season the veteran has reached the third round of the Australian Open and Wimbledon's All England Championships.

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At the start of the year, the world No. 54 revealed the secret to her longevity was a simple life and a lot of sleep.

But Date-Krumm, who is married to German racing driver Michael Krumm, is no slouch.

She ran the 2004 London Marathon in an impressive three hours and 30 minutes, has raised funds to build a school in Laos and holds coaching sessions for children around the globe.

The next challenge for Date-Krumm is facing 22-year-old compatriot Misaki Doi in the second round of the Japan Open.

Djokovic doffs hat to Nadal

In Shanghai, Novak Djokovic is on a mission to defend his Masters title this week but regaining the world No. 1 spot is not top of his agenda.

Rafael Nadal took over the top ranking Monday but Djokovic is philosophical about wrestling back top spot before the season is out.

"The rankings are there for a reason," Djokovic told the media in China.

"He has been playing some fantastic tennis since his comeback, and he deserves to be No. 1, definitely he's the most successful player this year.

Read: Nadal topples Djokovic

"I can affect only what I can affect, and that is to play the best tennis that I possibly can in the moment and to try to take one tournament at a time."

Momentum is in Djokovic's favor. The Australian Open champion defeated his Spanish rival at last week's China Open.

"I'm in a good place right now," the 26-year-old continued. "Something that makes me very happy is that I managed to regroup and mentally find my concentration and determination after the U.S. Open final loss against Nadal."

At the ATP event in Shanghai, heavy rain forced Tuesday's round of matches to be moved indoors.

Once under the roof, French ninth seed Richard Gasquet was knocked out by Canadian Vasek Pospisil 6-3 6-4.

Australian wildcard Lleyton Hewitt lost 6-4 6-2 to Italian Andreas Seppi, who goes up against fifth seed Roger Federer next.

The Swiss star is competing in his first event since the U.S. Open, and warned in Shanghai: "My game's been coming back."

The top eight seeds, which include Federer, Djokovic and Nadal, all have a bye into the second round.

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