Aleksandra Krunic conjured up some more US Open magic to cause the first big upset of the tournament in New York, beating the number seven seed, Johanna Konta, 4-6 6-3 6-4 in two hours and 16 minutes. Konta was one of eight players that had an opportunity to rise to the world number one, but she’s the first one to fall! Read on for a recap and analysis of the match…
Konta made a bright start to the match, quickly going up 4-1 and saving a break point with an ace out wide. However, there were some signs even in the first set that this was going to be a challenging match for Konta. Krunic managed to get back on level terms with Konta spraying a few backhands and not looking comfortable moving forward. While Krunic levelled up at 4-4, she was unable to build on the three straight games, throwing in a sloppy service game to get broken to love. Konta served out the set with a confident close to 15.
Despite winning the first set, Konta didn’t look comfortable – she was missing a ton of first serves and seemed hesitant to get up to the net which surely would have been a tactic on the fast hard courts in New York. Konta stayed in touch on serve, saving four break points to hold to 3-3 – three of those break point saves were clutch from Konta and one of them, a gorgeous drop volley, even got a racquet clap from Krunic.
There was a sense this could have seen a change in momentum – Krunic slammed the door shut with a hold to love although in truth, Konta helped her with a trio of missed returns. Krunic’s pressure on the increasingly vulnerable Konta serve told in the next game as she finally broke through, winning it with a cracking forehand that just clipped the baseline. Konta continued to miss returns as Krunic served out the second set to love, 6-4.
Krunic was increasingly confident and taking control of the rallies with a handful of gorgeous forehand winners. It was no surprise when Krunic earnt the first break of the third set to lead *2-1.
The next two games felt significant – both went to deuce and Konta sneaked them out. Krunic missed a game point for 3-1 as Konta produced a stunning backhand pass down-the-line when Krunic could have done more with the forehand. Krunic began to make a few questionable choices on court with a poor drop shot that Konta put away with ease to break back to 2-2. The Brit then held her next service game to go ahead.
Konta had an opening in Krunic’s next service game, yet missed returns again cost her as the Serb levelled up at 3-3. Krunic had a few shaky moments to lose two games from 2-1 to 2-3, but she managed to regain her composure and had the momentum again with another break of serve as Konta made yet another unconvincing foray unto the net. Konta’s game began to unravel with yet more missed returns and a comfortable service game. Krunic enjoyed a comfortable service hold to lead 5-3 in the third set.
Konta stayed alive for a time, playing a clutch game to dig out of a *0-30 hole on serve including some big second serves. In such a big moment, there was a question mark to whether Krunic would feel the nerves serving it out – not at all as Krunic opened with an ace, showed great agility at the net and hit with confidence to serve out for a huge win.
The winners to unforced errors differential for each set was as follows:
Set 1: AK 6-17, JK 8-13
Set 2: AK 13-8, JK 11-14
Set 3: AK 15-11, JK 14-15
A pair of great shots from Jimmie48 Tennis Photography
Props to Krunic for a fantastic performance. She made life really difficult for Konta and she’s got a neat game, mixing up nicely with effortless movement and able to hit big, particularly off the forehand side. For Konta, it was a pretty rough day at the office and I can’t remember her missing so many first serves in one match – Konta’s second serve was pretty steady but she didn’t have the first serve to get her out of trouble, serving at 45% of first serves in.
A bit of a shocker for me as I had Konta as my champ… hey ho! 😂
Krunic’s three set win over Konta was her best victory on tour and first top ten win since her run to the fourth round of the US Open in 2014 when she beat the then number four seed, Petra Kvitova in the third round.
Krunic will play Ajla Tomljanovic in the second round – one to watch going forward!