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Zvonareva scrapes past Peng in L.A.

SECOND-SEEDED Vera Zvonareva scraped into the round of 16 at the L.A. Women's Tennis Championships by the barest of margins today, edging China's Peng Shuai 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (6).

The Russian survived to set up a meeting with either American veteran Jill Craybas or Belgium's Yanina Wickmayer.

In the other second round match on the day, sixth-seeded Ana Ivanovic was also extended to three sets to beat American Vania King 6-4, 4-6, 6-1.

Where Peng fell short, her compatriots Li Na and Jie Zheng, seeded 12th and 14th respectively, both won through to the second round, as did Australia's No. 13 Sam Stosur.

Japan's Kimiko Date Krumm, 38, almost beat a player half her age in her first-round match, forcing Germany's Sabine Lisicki to dig deep to win 7-6 (5), 2-6, 7-5.

Date Krumm made her professional debut on the WTA Tour six months before Lisicki was born. She won seven tour titles and about US$2 million in prize money and was No. 8 in the rankings when she retired after the 1996 season.

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. Before when I play, after losing it was like everything finished. Now I have more wide views."

Date Krumm's German husband is a racing driver who encouraged her to return to the game he knew she loved. She rejected his urgings until early 2008, when she played an exhibition tournament in Tokyo with Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova.

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.

"Everybody hits harder, more powerful, more speedy," Date Krumm said. "A long time ago, in my generation, everybody was using more the head and more the tactics, and tennis was more interesting to watch and play. Now everybody says my style is old style, but I don't care. It's working so I don't care.

"I'm not tall, not powerful and don't have big muscles," the 150-centimeter (5-foot), 53-kilogram (117-pound) Date Krumm said.

"I cannot change my body so I need to use more my head and my technique. This (is) my second career. It's just to enjoy to play tennis. I love tennis, and I like a challenge."


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