NEW YORK, NY, USA -The unseeded Aleksandra Krunic put together an inspired performance to record the biggest upset of the US Open so far, knocking out No.7 seed Johanna Konta in the first round.
Konta came out swinging to grab the first set, but Krunic turned it around to record a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 shocker, ending - for this year at least - the Brit's bid for a maiden Grand Slam title - and the WTA's World No.1 ranking.
“I think Jo has definitely been playing amazing recently, and last year she was amazing,” Krunic said. “I think out of all Top 10 players at the moment, I got one of the most solid ones.
“She’s tough to play against because she doesn’t give me any free points. I had to be very decisive from the first point to the last. She definitely pushed me completely to my limits.”
The victory is Krunic’s first Top 10-win of the year, and just the second of her career. Ranked No.78, Krunic is looking to recreate the magic of her breakthrough run at the 2014 US Open, where she defeated No.27 Madison Keys and No.4 Petra Kvitova en route to the fourth round as a qualifier - her best Grand Slam result to date.
Through to the second round for only the second time in her career, Krunic earns the chance to take on either Ajla Tomljanovic or Johanna Larsson in the second round.
Konta had impressed home fans with her run to the Wimbledon semifinals earlier in the season, but historically her best tennis has shined on the hard courts. Facing Krunic for the first time, she came out firing on all cylinders with her big serves finding their mark - despite a handful of early double faults - and her powerful returns earned her a quick double break to build up a 4-1 lead.
But Krunic showed her quality by digging her heels in and recovering both, leveling the match at 4-4 and looking increasingly dangerous across the net. The Brit stayed cool, and kept her contained with a flurry of huge backhands, breaking once more and going on to take the set.
She put the vulnerable Krunic serve under thorough examination in the start of the second, bringing up three break points on the Serb’s first two service games. Krunic held firm and later on gave Konta a taste of her own medicine; she brought up four break chances in a marathon sixth game, but still both players remained on serve.
The Serb kept chipping away with her tricky arsenal of pace and variety, and in Konta’s very next service game she was finally rewarded with a late break, consolidating to love to take the second set off the Brit.
The pair traded breaks early in the third as Konta’s unforced error count continued to climb - and her first serve percentage begin to dip. Krunic capitalized brilliantly, finally grabbing the decisive break at 4-3 as she reeled off three games in a row.
Krunic didn’t show a hint of nerves as she served out the match - the second biggest victory of her career - and took her spot into the second round after just under two hours and 20 minutes.
“I think with all due respect to her, she played very well,” Konta acknowledged in her post-match press conference. “She played consistently much better than I did. I think she was able to raise her level throughout the match, and mine fluctuated a little bit up and down.
“In terms of effort and fight, I competed until the very last point. I think the level of tennis by her was just better today. I don't think I necessarily played my best tennis today, but my opponent also had something to say about that.”