On Saturday, top men and women’s seeds justified their tournament rankings by advancing to the round of 16 but third-seeded Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova was knocked out by Serbian qualifier Aleksandra Krunic. The day 6 also saw fourth-round progress for Victoria Azarenka, Milos Raonic, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Stan Wawrinka, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Kei Nishikori and Tommy Robredo. The first week was remarkable for the waves created by USA’s 15-year old Cici Bellis; the return to tennis scene by Mirjiana Lucic-Baroni and maiden US open entry for fan favorite Victor Estrella Burgos at age 34.
But the biggest news on Saturday was made by Serbia’s 21-year old qualifier Aleksandra Krunic. Playing commanding tennis, Krunic forced Petra Kvitova into committing several unforced errors and ultimately knocked her out of US open. Kvitova was high on confidence before she took to the court against Krunic on Saturday. The two-time Wimbledon champion had won her 13th-career title last week in New Haven and reached the third round here by dropping just seven games in first two rounds. But the Serbian was not perturbed by such credentials as she danced around the court like a gymnast. She surprised Kvitova by her amazing ability of retrieving some impossible shots and producing drop shots with shrewdness. This drew out the Wimbledon champion out of her comfort zone several times. The other unexpected shots that the Serbian produced were; ferociously spinning forehands and nicely sliced backhands. Though Kvitova had 17 winners to Krunic’s 8 in the first set, the Serbian still won 6-4 by converting both break opportunities. In second set, Krunic broke early to take a 3-2 lead and consolidated it to 4-2. Disappointment was clear in Kvitova’s approach at this stage but she raised her game regardless and after holding her serve, broke Krunic’s to make it 4-4. At 30-30 in the ninth game, Kvitova looked like bouncing back into the match, when she sent a sharply angled backhand with Krunic too far away. But the Serbian was not outdone. She dived and made a sliding retrieval in Djokovic style. Kvitova had least expected such acrobatics and her response was a forehand going long. Though Kvitova saved one break point, she faltered on the second by sending a backhand out of court. With a 5-4 lead and her service game coming next, Krunic had the match under control. She played a drop shot in her service game to torment Kvitova and held three match points. Then the Serbian had the victory gift as Kvitova committed her 33rd unforced error. Krunic flipped her racquet aside, dropped flat on her back on court and looked up to the Gods in exhilaration. Krunic now faces 16th-seeded Victoria Azarenka, who had an easy win against Russia’s Elena Vesnina. Azarenka has had an injury-curtailed 2014 season but she is looking good in the US open. Against Vesnina, Vika won 80% points on her first serve and restricted the unforced error count to just 8. The victory score-line of 6-1, 6-1 is an ample testimony of Vika’s rejuvenated status.
Men’s No.1 seed Novak Djokovic scored an easy 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 win over American Sam Querrey. It was Djokovic’s service game that progressively wore down Querrey. In the first set, Djokovic had 67% of first serve winning the points for him and that improved to 75% in the second before rising to a whopping 86% in the third. Djokovic now faces Germany’s No. 22 seed Paul Kohlschreiber, who had a tough four-setter against No.13 John Isner of USA. The big-serving American sent down an amazing number of 42 aces in the match but his 38 unforced errors nullified such effort as the German emerged victorious 7-6, 4-6, 7-6, 7-6.
Canada’s No. 7 seed Eugenie Bouchard had a tough 6-2, 6-7, 6-4 victory against another upcoming name in women’s game, Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of Czech Republic. Bouchard committed 34 unforced errors but Strycova couldn’t capitalize on such lapses. The Canadian next takes on Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova, who defeated Kazakhstan’s Zarina Diyaz 6-2, 6-4.
Andy Murray had a four-set battle against Russian Andrey Kuznetsov before sailing into the fourth round with a 6-1, 7-5, 4-6, 6-2 victory. After easily taking the first set, Murray fought out the second set but lost the third. Then the Scot raised his game to outplay the Russian in the fourth set. Murray faces Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in fourth round. On his part, Tsonga had straight sets 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 victory over unseeded Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta.
No. 3 seed Stanislas Wawrinka progressed without hitting a ball as Slovenia’s Blaz Kavcic couldn’t play due to foot injury. In fourth round, Wawrinka’s will face Spain’s Tommy Robredo, who ended the US open challenge of Australian teenager Nick Kyrgios in four sets. The Spaniard had to use all his experience after losing the first set and came through 3-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-3. Of other men’s seeds, Canadian Milos Raonic beat crowd favorite Victor Estrella Burgos of the Dominican Republic 7-6, 7-6, 7-6 and Japanese Kei Nishikori beat Leonardo Mayer of Argentina 6-4, 6-2, 6-3. Raonic and Nishikori will take on each other in their fourth round match.
Now US open has just one American remaining in the draw but that one is enough. Serena Williams is the world’s best women’s player and on Saturday, she took care of compatriot Varvara Lepchenko 6-3, 6-3 to book her berth in the fourth round. Lepchenko committed 32 unforced errors and no can beat Serena with so many.