Ivanovic enters third round

CARSON: Kimiko Date Krumm of Japan lost 7-6 (5), 2-6, 7-5 to Germany’s Sabine Lisicki — nearly 20 years her junior — in the first round of the LA Women’s Tennis Championships on Tuesday.

Lisicki, 19, was joined in the second round by No 10 seed Li Na of China, Chinese No 14 Zheng Jie and unseeded Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia, among others, and of those winning on Tuesday, Li, at 27, is the oldest. Former tournament champion, Ana Ivanovic of Serbia — the No 6 seed — outlasted America’s Vania King 6-4, 4-6, 6-1 in a second-round match.

The 38-year-old Date Krumm joked that she doesn’t ask the age of her opponents. Instead, she asks how old their mothers are, because she can better relate to that generation.

Date Krumm made her professional debut on the WTA Tour six months before Lisicki was born

in September, 1989. She won

seven tour titles and about $2 million in prize money and was No 8 in the rankings when she retired after the 1996.

Now she’s back on the tour, trying to rebuild her ranking in a sport that changed dramatically during her 12-year sabbatical, and she said she would like to play “maybe one or two more years, maybe three years, until my body is dead. Age is not important to me. Maybe some people think it’s too crazy, but I’m enjoying a lot,” Date Krumm said of her comeback. For me it’s not only for the ranking or always to win the tournament. It’s just to enjoy life.

Date Krumm’s German husband is a race car driver who constantly encouraged her to return to the game he knew she

loved. She said she always rejected his suggestions and told herself tennis was not important anymore. She said her thinking changed early in 2008, however, when she began to train in preparation for an exhibition in Tokyo with Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova, and afterward she began to play again.

She played on the ITF circuit in Japan for the second half of last year, winning three singles titles and two doubles championships, and returned to the WTA Tour early this year. She’s had only modest success, but takes encouragement from close matches like the one against Lisicki.