WHAT HAPPENED: Aleksandra Krunic refused to fold in her second-round match against 19-year-old American Madison Keys. The 21-year-old Serbian’s calm composure played a huge part in her 7-6, 2-6, 7-5 win over the home-crowd favorite.
Amidst swirling winds in Louis Armstrong Stadium, both women began the match with easy service-game holds. Krunic matched Keys’ heavy hitting for much of the first set, absorbing the No. 27 seed’s strong groundstrokes with solid baseline shots of her own. The Serb managed to stave off four crucial set points from Keys in the 10th game of the set, coming up with a big hold that forced Keys to force the first set into a tiebreak. Although Keys earned the first mini-break of the tiebreaker to earn a 2-0 advantage, Krunic leveled the score at 2-all and continued to play with the tough defense she demonstrated throughout the opening set. A few unforced errors by Keys allowed Krunic to win the tiebreak, 7-4.
Dropping the first set only seemed to sharpen Keys’ focus, as she came out firing in the second. She broke Krunic in the first game and again in the third, earning a 4-0 lead before the Serbian managed to get herself on the scoreboard. At 5-2, Keys was down 15-40 while serving for the set but fought off two break points with a big serve and an ace. She won the next two points and let out a “Come on!” as she closed out the second set, 6-2.
The third set continued to go Keys’ way, as she broke Krunic again in the first game with a shot that skimmed the net and dribbled over to give the American an early advantage. With Krunic hitting only 21 winners to Keys’ 40, the third set seemed to be heading the same way as the second. Krunic dug deep, however, raising her game and taking advantage of Keys’ nerves to break back in the sixth game and level the set at 3-all. The break served as an enormous turnaround for the Serbian, who used the shift in momentum to put extra pressure on the American to hold serve. Keys continued to take risks on big points, but in the end, a little extra belief from Krunic gave her three match points on Keys’ serve. In perhaps the biggest moment of her career, the Serbian only needed one to win the set, and the match.
WHAT IT MEANS: The 2014 US Open marks Krunic’s second Grand Slam main-draw appearance. She had played four Top 30 players prior to today’s match but had never won a set against any of them before defeating Keys. The No. 3 seed, Petra Kvitova, awaits Krunic in the third round.
THE QUESTION: Can Krunic take out another seed at the 2014 US Open?