NEW YORK -- Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova joined a long list of women's upset victims at the U.S. Open when she was ousted in the third round on Saturday by 145th-ranked qualifier Aleksandra Krunic.
The 21-year-old Serb fell onto her back in celebration after a last groundstroke by the third-seeded Kvitova sailed wide for the final point in the 6-4, 6-4 shocker.
Krunic might have stayed down in part to recuperate from her dashes to all corners of the court in thwarting the Czech in the latest Flushing Meadows stunner.
Two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova, outsteadied by the quick-moving Serb, became the fifth seed from the top eight to be dismissed joining Simona Halep (2), Agnieszka Radwanska (4), Angelique Kerber (6) and Ana Ivanovic (8).
The diminutive Krunic, a blur as she sprinted and slid into splits stretching for returns, was as surprised as anyone.
“It was an honor for me to be on the same court as Petra, who is a great champion,” Krunic told the Louis Armstrong Stadium crowd after the 98-minute match. “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, into the fourth round. Pennetta advanced with a 6-4, 6-0 win against American wild card Nicole Gibbs.
Tenth-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan 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.
Extending rallies with bursts of speed that often took her from the forehand corner to the backhand border, Krunic drew 34 errors from the left-hander while committing just 14.
Kvitova tried to seize control, unleashing 33 winners to only 17 from Krunic, but too often failed in the big moments against a determined opponent with nothing to lose.
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 either two-times Australian Open winner Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, the 16th seed, or Russian Elena Vesnina for a berth in the quarters.
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