Sharapova's Date turns sour
Defending champion Maria Sharapova fell victim to local favourite Kimiko Date Krumm in the first round of the Pan Pacific Open women's tennis tournament on Monday.
The Russian 12th seed, who also won here in 2005, dug her own grave by hitting 11 double faults -- nine of them in her broken-service games -- to go down 5-7, 6-3, 3-6 to the Japanese.
"My opponent played really a solid match. I didn't feel comfortable throughout the match. Rhythm wasn't there and I couldn't take an advantage. She did a good job," said Sharapova.
"Her style of play is quite different. Her strokes are pretty fast, she stays inside the baseline and takes the ball early, so the style is different from the majority on the tour.
"On this fast surface, she uses that advantage, especially today, I think she did incredibly well," added the Russian.
Neither could keep her serve in the first four games with Sharapova hitting five double faults in her first two games.
Date, who will turn 40 on Tuesday, broke one more time in the 11th game taking a chance on Sharapova's another double faults before winning the set.
Sharapova steadied herself to take the second set without facing a single break point against her.
The former world number one broke Date in the fifth game to lead 3-2 in the final set from where her serve betrayed her again, losing a 40-0 lead in the following game with two double faults.
Date, the 1995 champion here, took the last four games in a row to finish off the 129-minute match.
"That was when I broke her and I was serving at 40-love. I started making easy errors after serve and after ground strokes as well. I think that really gave her confidence," said Sharapova.
Meanwhile, Date said: "She is the former world number one and the defending champion. She is really strong, so I had to play at least my best performance.
"I struggled with her serve. It's true that her double faults helped me a lot. But I didn't play badly on my serve. I think that was the key to my victory," said Date.
In the second round, Date will play Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia, the 6-3, 6-3 winner over Angelique Kerber of Germany on Sunday.
Sixth seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, who received first-round byes with other seven seeds, became the first player to reach the third round, beating Olga Govortsova of Beralus 6-2, 6-3.
In other first round action, Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan defeated Japan's Kurumi Nara 4-6, 6-2, 6-1, while Sara Errani of Italy outclassed Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-2.
The 15th seed Nadia Petrova of Russia crashed to a 7-5, 6-4 defeat to Roberta Vinci of Italy.