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Kvitova crashes out but Serena keeps shining

ESPN staff
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Aleksandra Krunic provided the latest upset of a thrilling US Open so far © Getty Images
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Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova was stunned in the third round of the US Open by a scrambling, moon-balling qualifier ranked at No.145.

Aleksandra Krunic, a 21-year-old Serb who until this week had not taken even a set from a player in the top 30, crumpled to the court in celebration and shock Saturday when she pulled off the 6-4 6-4 upset of the third-seeded Czech.

"Of course, I didn't expect to win," said Krunic, the second qualifier to pull off such a shocker after 121st-ranked Mirjana Lucic-Baroni beat No.2-seeded Simona Halep on Friday.

Even when Krunic took the lead in the second set and the Louis Armstrong Stadium crowd was cheering her on, "I just told to myself, 'It's still on her, you still have nothing to lose.'"

Petra Kvitova struggles to hide her disappointment © Getty Images
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"I really focused my 100 percent not to think about anything that is happening - about the court, about so many people, about Petra," she said.

Kvitova, who would have ascended to the No.1 ranking if she won the US Open and Williams had lost before the quarter-final, committed 34 unforced errors against the fast-moving Krunic, who slid and sometimes went into a split to chase down every ball and make her opponent hit one more shot.

Kvitova too often failed to do so, including what should have been an easy putaway of a drop shot that put Krunic a point away from winning the first set. Kvitova sprayed a backhand long on the next point to lose it.

Those problems continued in the second set, and in an epic 27-stroke rally on match point, Krunic looped several towering shots before Kvitova sailed yet another forehand out to end it.

"She played really unbelievable tennis and she put a lot of balls back ... almost all of them," said Kvitova, a two-time Wimbledon champion who has never advanced past the fourth round at the US Open. "I was trying to fight and fighting every point, but it was so difficult. It wasn't really my day."

After a week of upsets on the women's side, only three of the top eight seeds remain, No.1 Serena Williams, who breezed Varvara Lepchenko 6-3 6-3, No.5 Maria Sharapova and No.7 Eugenie Bouchard.

Williams has now won 17 matches in a row at Flushing Meadows as she bids to become the first woman with three straight titles at the tournament since Chris Evert took four in a row from 1975 to 1978.

Next up for Williams is Kaia Kanepi after the Estonian beat Carla Suarez Navarro 7-5 6-0, while Krunic next faces 16th-seeded Victoria Azarenka, a 6-1 6-1 winner over Elena Vesnina.

Wimbledon runner-up Bouchard pulled out a suddenly tight match, edging 30th-seed Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic 6-2 6-7(2) 6-4 to reach the fourth round for the first time.

The seventh-seeded Bouchard was the only woman to make it to at least the semi-finals at each of the year's first three Grand Slam tournaments. At Wimbledon, she became the first Canadian to appear in a major singles final.

To get to the quarter-finals at Flushing Meadows, Bouchard will need to beat No.17 Ekaterina Makarova.

Azarenka, who has lost to Williams in the US Open final the last two years, says she had never seen Krunic play before.

There was no upset for 11th-seeded Flavia Pennetta, who downed American wild-card Nicole Gibbs, 6-4 6-0.

Serena Williams won her 17th straight match at the US Open © Getty Images
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