Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova joined a long upset hit-list at the hands of little-known Aleksandra Krunic of Serbia, while Wimbledon winner Novak Djokovic led an unfettered charge of seeded men into the fourth round.
The third-seeded Kvitova was ousted in the third round by 145th-ranked qualifier Krunic, becoming the tournament’s fifth victim among the top eight women’s seeds.
The 21-year-old Serb fell onto her back in celebration after a last groundstroke by the Czech sailed wide for the final point in the 6-4 6-4 shocker.
Krunic might have stayed down in part to recuperate from her dashes to all corners of the court in thwarting twice Wimbledon winner Kvitova in the latest Flushing Meadows stunner.
Kvitova, outsteadied by the quick-moving Serb, joined Simona Halep (2), Agnieszka Radwanska (4), Angelique Kerber (6) and Ana Ivanovic (8) in being shown the exit.
The diminutive Krunic, a blur as she sprinted and slid into splits stretching for returns, was as surprised as anyone.
“It was an honor for me to be on the same court as Petra, who is a great champion,” Krunic told the Louis Armstrong Stadium crowd after the 98-minute match. “I watched both of her finals matches at Wimbledon.
“Going to play against such a champion meant to stay on the court as long as possible. Of course, I didn’t expect to win. Of course, I hoped to. I’m very happy.”
Krunic joined Italy’s Flavia Pennetta, the 11th seed, into the fourth round. Pennetta advanced with a 6-4 6-0 win against American wild card Nicole Gibbs.
On the men’s side, top-seeded Djokovic took another routine step in his bid to reach a fifth successive U.S. Open final by beating American Sam Querrey 6-3 6-2 6-2.
World number one Djokovic needed just 85 minutes to reach the round of 16 in Arthur Ashe Stadium and has yet to lose a set.
Djokovic will next meet either another big-serving American, 13th seed John Isner, or 22nd seed Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany.
In contrast to the battle-scarred women’s draw, there has yet to be a casualty among the top 10 men’s seeds.
Also advancing early in Saturday’s day session were fifth-seeded Canadian Milos Raonic and 10th seed Kei Nishikori of Japan.
Raonic relied once again on his booming serve to win in straight sets determined by three tiebreakers against Dominican Victor Estrella Burgos.
Nishikori booked his berth in the round of 16 by beating 23rd seed Leonardo Mayer of Argentina 6-4 6-2 6-3.
Krunic, who aims to graduate from university in Serbia this year with a degree in economics, calculated her chances were best by concentrating on keeping the ball in play against the Wimbledon champion and she followed the plan with precision.
Extending rallies with bursts of speed that often took her from the forehand corner to the backhand border, Krunic drew 34 errors from the left-hander while committing just 14.
Kvitova tried to seize control, unleashing 33 winners to only 17 from Krunic, but too often failed in the big moments against a determined opponent with nothing to lose.
“I’m very disappointed,” said Kvitova. “I think she played really unbelievable tennis and she put a lot of balls back. Almost all of them.
“It was very difficult just to play only on the winners. I did mistakes and I was really trying everything that I could. I was trying to fight and fighting every point, but it was so difficult. She played really great tennis today.”
The three wins at Flushing Meadows were the first three posted by Krunic in a grand slam. Her second-round victory over 27th-ranked American Madison Keys marked her first win over a top 30 player.
Krunic’s victory ensured the Singidunum University student a payday of at least $187,000, more than triple her tennis winnings of $45,000 this year.
Krunic, rated fifth among Serbia’s women players entering the year’s last grand slam, will next play two-times Australian Open winner Victoria Azarenka of Belarus for a berth in the quarters. Azarenka, the 16th seed, defeated Russian Elena Vesnina 6-1 6-1.
(Editing by Gene Cherry)