Women's Round-Up: Madison Keys overcomes sluggish start to advance
Hard-hitting American Madison Keys overcame a slow start to beat Aleksandra Krunic 4-6 6-1 6-2 in the U.S. Open third round on Saturday and move a step closer to a return trip to the final
Keys, who lost to compatriot Sloane Stephens in last year's final, overpowered the defensive-minded Krunic as the Serb struggled to handle the 14th seed's punishing groundstrokes and powerful serve on a sunny day at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Krunic was the sharper of the pair at the outset, breaking Keys in the opening game and holding serve the rest of the way to capture the first set and put the partisan New York crowd on edge.
Madison Keys of the United States serves during her women's singles third round match against Aleksandra Krunic of Serbia on Day Six of the 2018 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 1, 2018 in the Flushing neighborhoodGetty Images
But Keys, 23, came out more aggressively in the second set, breaking Krunic in the second game and racing to a 3-0 lead that she would not relinquish as errors began to pile up for the 25-year-old.
The service games of both players deserted them in the third as the set started with five straight breaks that put Keys ahead 3-2.
The American finally held serve to take a 4-2 lead and hit her 43rd winner on match point to advance to a fourth-round meeting with 29th seed Dominika Cibulkova.
Cibulkova made it through as another top seed crashed out as Angelique Kerber was beaten 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 by the Slovak.
The pair always have intense games and Kerber took the opener and looked in good form.
Angelique KerberGetty Images
However the German really struggled as her opponent upped the intensity and stormed back in impressive fashion.
It now means that the 2018 Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon winners are all out.
Elsewhere in-form Kiki Bertens is out after losing 7-6, 2-6, 7-6 to Marketa Vondrousova.
Bertens battled throughout but despite an impressive second set she didn't have enough and Vondrousova is through to the next round.
In the night shift fifth seed Petra Kvitova became the latest big name in the women's draw to crash out when she lost to Aryna Sabalenka 7-5 6-1 at the Louis Armstrong Stadium.
The exit of the Czech, who reached last year's quarter-finals, leaves only three of the top 10 women's players in the running, with defending champion and world number three Sloane Stephens the highest ranked player left in the draw.
Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus celebrates victory during her women's singles third round match against Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic on Day Six of the 2018 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 1, 2018 in the Flushing neigGetty Images
Kvitova beat Sabalenka in three sets at the Miami Open earlier this year but the often error-prone 20-year-old Belarusian showed she had tightened up her game considerably since that encounter.
Sabalenka made 15 unforced errors to Kvitova's 35 and won 80 percent of her first serves as she wrapped up the victory in one hour and 25 minutes.
She overpowered the twice Wimbledon champion from the back of the court too, winning 49 points from the baseline compared to Kvitova's 27.
- No. 29 Dominika Cibulkova def. No. 4 Angelique Kerber, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3
- No. 26 Aryna Sabalenka def. No. 5 Petra Kvitova, 7-5, 6-1
- No. 30 Carla Suarez Navarro def. No. 6 Caroline Garcia, 5-7, 6-4, 7-6(4)
- No. 22 Maria Sharapova def. No. 10 Jelena Ostapenko, 6-3, 6-2
- Marketa Vondrousova def. No. 13 Kiki Bertens, 7-6(4), 2-6, 7-6(1)
- No. 14 Madison Keys def. Aleksandra Krunic, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2
- No. 20 Naomi Osaka def. Aliaksandra Sasnovich, 6-0, 6-0
- Lesia Tsurenko def. Katerina Siniakova, 6-4, 6-0