US Open: Krunic stuns Kvitova as women seeds fall

IT WAS one Wimbledon champion up, and another down on Saturday at the US Open with the upset-
ridden women’s draw hit with another shock result.

Petra Kvitova fought for every point but was unable to overcome Aleksandra Krunic. Picture: AP

Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova joined a long upset hit-list at the hands of the little-known Aleksandra Krunic of Serbia, while Novak Djokovic led an unfettered charge of seeded men into the fourth round.

The third-seeded Kvitova was ousted in the third round by 145th-ranked qualifier Krunic, becoming the fifth victim among the top eight women’s seeds.

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The 21-year-old Serb fell on to her back in celebration after a last groundstroke by the Czech sailed wide for the final point in the 6-4, 6-4 shocker.

Kvitova, outsteadied by the quick-moving Serb, joined Simona Halep (seeded two), Agnieszka Radwanska (four), Angelique Kerber (six) and Ana Ivanovic (eight) in being shown the exit door.

The diminutive Krunic, a blur as she sprinted and slid into splits stretching for returns, was as surprised as anyone.

“It was an honour for me to be on the same court as Petra, who is a great champion,” Krunic told the Louis Armstrong Stadium crowd afterwards. “I watched both of her finals matches at Wimbledon.

“Going to play against such a champion meant to stay on the court as long as possible. Of course, I didn’t expect to win. Of course, I hoped to. I’m very happy.”

Krunic joined Italy’s Flavia Pennetta, the 11th seed, in the fourth round. Pennetta advanced with a 6-4, 6-0 win against American wild card Nicole Gibbs.

On the men’s side, top-seeded Djokovic took another routine step in his bid to reach a fifth successive US Open final by beating American Sam Querrey 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.

World No.1 Djokovic needed just 85 minutes to reach the round of 16 in Arthur Ashe Stadium and has yet to lose a set.

Djokovic will next meet either another big-serving American, 13th seed John Isner, or 22nd seed Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany.

In contrast to the battle-scarred women’s draw, there has yet to be a casualty among the top ten men’s seeds.

Also advancing yesterday were fifth-seeded Canadian Milos Raonic and tenth seed Kei Nishikori of Japan. Raonic relied once again on his booming serve to win in straight sets determined by three tiebreakers against Dominican Victor Estrella Burgos. Nishikori booked his berth in the round of 16 by beating 23rd seed Leonardo Mayer of Argentina 6-4, 6-2, 6-3.

Krunic, who aims to graduate from university in Serbia this year with a degree in economics, calculated her chances were best by concentrating on keeping the ball in play against the Wimbledon champion and she followed the plan with precision.

“I’m very disappointed,” said Kvitova. “I think she played really unbelievable tennis and she put a lot of balls back. Almost all of them.

“I was really trying everything that I could. I was trying to fight and fighting every point, but it was so difficult. She played really great tennis today.”

The three wins at Flushing Meadows were the first three posted by Krunic in a grand slam. Her second-round victory over 27th-ranked American Madison Keys marked her first win over a top 30 player.

Krunic’s victory ensured the Singidunum University student a payday of at least $187,000, more than triple her tennis winnings of $45,000 this year.

Krunic, rated fifth among Serbia’s women players entering the year’s last grand slam, will next play two-times Australian Open winner Victoria Azarenka of Belarus for a berth in the quarters. Azarenka, the 16th seed, defeated Russian Elena Vesnina 6-1, 6-1.