A late push by the 24-year-old sees her on her cusp of the Top 50 - here's why the rising Serb is primed to reach new heights in 2018.
Victoria Chiesa
December 20, 2017

Serbia's Aleksandra Krunic made her case as one of the most improved players on the WTA in 2017, after cutting her singles ranking by nearly 100 places over the course of the year. 

After having to play qualifying at the first three Grand Slams of 2017, a mid-season surge saw Krunic earn direct entry into the US Open -- the site of her best major performance to date, when she stunned Madison Keys and Petra Kvitova en route to the fourth round as a qualifier in 2014. 

This time around, Krunic scored her second career Top 10 victory in the opening round in New York, taking out Great Britain's Johanna Konta en route to the third round. 

While the big wins are great pieces of Krunic's resume, those statement results in New York's lore only scratch the surface of her potential as one of the game's rising talents.

Here are some of the top reasons why the Serbian No.1 should be on your radar for 2018.

1. She ended 2017 at a career-high ranking in singles...

A late push in the second half of the season, beginning in June when she won her first WTA 125K title in Bol with the loss of the just one set, helped in that regard.

Read more: Top 5 Upsets of 2017 (No.3): Krunic knocks out Konta at US Open

The Serb posted a 27-11 record over her 12 tournaments in 2017, reaching her first WTA singles final in Guangzhou - where she and Zhang Shuai put on a show - and three other WTA quarterfinals.

She currently sits at World No.53, and is the only Serbian ranked inside the world's Top 150.

2. ..but she's nowhere near a late bloomer.

Krunic has been familiar to most tennis fans since her teenage years, where she was resposible for some dramatic victories for her country in Fed Cup.  

She made her debut for her country in 2009 as a 16-year-old, but made her first splash two years later. 

3. She has a penchant for the big moments...

Long before she was knocking off high-profile players at the US Open, Krunic was embracing the pressure of playing for her country.

Partnering fellow teenager Bojana Jovanovski and Jelena Jankovic in doubles rubbers, Krunic first came to fans' attention with dramatic victories in the World Group II over Canada, and the World Group Playoffs again Slovakia, in 2011.

She and Jankovic rallied from a 5-1 deficit in the final set to defeat Daniela Hantuchova and Magdalena Rybarikova - saving two match points in a three hour, 17-minute, 2-6, 7-5, 9-7, saga - to secure Serbia's spot in the World Group.

That result afforded Serbia the opportunity to reach the Fed Cup final the next year, but they might not have gotten there were it not for Krunic and Jovanovski's heroics against Belgium in a deciding doubles rubber in the first round.

4. ...and she's one of the biggest double threats on the WTA.

In addition to reaching new heights in singles, the versatile Krunic also reached a career-best mark in the doubles rankings last season. She peaked at World No.43 in April, and reached three WTA semifinals with three different partners.

Krunic already owns some WTA hardware on the doubles court, having won the Tashkent Open alongside Katerina Siniakova in 2014 and the Morocco Open in Rabat with Xenia Knoll in 2016.

5. She's got a new coach by her side.

Beginning last season, the Serb joined forces with former WTA player Elise Tamaela in her coaching camp, having previously worked with compatriots Biljana Veselinovic and Branislav Jevremovic in her career, among others. 

The two have been chronicling their offseason adventures on social media, as Krunic has been working hard in her preseason preparations. 

4th week of preps :) #myteam #newseason #myfavcoach

A post shared by Aleksandra Krunic (@alexkrunic) on

Tamaela won a total of 17 titles on the ITF Circuit in her career - eight in singles and nine in doubles - and joins an exclusive club as one of just a handful of female coaches on tour.

The Dutchwoman competed at all four Grand Slams and was a member of her country's Fed Cup team from 2003-05, playing in 14 total ties.

6. Krunic's success heralded a changing of the guard in Serbian tennis...

For nearly 15 years, former World No.1 Jankovic and the now-retired Ana Ivanovic were the standard bearers for the sport in Serbia, but Krunic added her name to her nation's tennis history over the summer. 

With her first-round win over Konta at the US Open in August, Krunic surpassed Jankovic in the WTA rankings, becoming her country's top-ranked player for the first time.

7. ...but she needed to adjust to the learning curve.

While she was known for her on-court flair and her heroics on the national team, the 24-year-old admitted during her latest run in Flushing Meadows that playing with a clear head didn't always come easily.

Read more: Krunic stuns British No.1 Konta in US Open first round

"We all need time -- some players more, some players less -- to realize what works best on the court. I think I found my way...I wasn't consistent in anything," Krunic told WTA Insider at the US Open.

"I'm very intuitive and [when] I'd wake up and I feel like a wreck and I don't want to practice or do anything, so I just wouldn't do it. Now I understand that okay, I feel terrible, but I can still go on court, I can still make a difference to my day, I can hit 30 minutes, it's fine, but give everything you have. Now, I can face myself for not being perfect."

Read more: Aleksandra Krunic just wants to 'shut up and play'

"I follow my instincts everywhere except on the tennis court, which I realized, finally, at 24 years old, that doesn't make any sense."

With the tools, the team, and the mindset to succeed on court, the Serb might be on course to make a splash in a big way - consistently - in 2018.

Click here to see more of the 2018 Scouting Report and find out which players should be on your radar this upcoming season -- and hear more from Krunic on the WTA Insider Podcast.