As we continue to look at some of the more unsung bright prospects of 2011, our next journey takes us straight back to the land of that tiny tennis superpower, Serbia. Well, kinda. Though she lists Serbia as her nationality, Aleksandra Krunic was born, raised and still resides in Moscow – a result of her family emigrating from Serbia to Russia in the early ‘90s. Aged seven, she picked up her first tennis racket and joined the world-famous Spartak Moscow club, the club that has produced the likes of Anna Kournikova, Anastasia Myskina, Marat Safin, Dinara Safina, Igor Andreev and many others.
Aleksandra Krunic’s junior career is pretty reflective of her as a person. After quickly rising up the rankings, she climbed to a high of #17 in 2009. Most players would excitedly set their sights on the top 15, top 10 and so on, but not Alexandra Krunic. She wanted more than just a little bit of junior success, and so she made the decision to quit the junior circuit after Wimbledon. The transition from juniors to seniors has been seamless; she won the first event she entered at a $10k event in Serbia and after clinching more $10k titles in 2009, her big ITF breakthrough came in the first week of 2010 with a victory at the $50k challenger in Quanzhou, China. With yet more solid results in 2010, including another title at a $25k in Moscow, Alex sped to a career high of 213 in October. During this period, Alex has been closely mentored by one Jelena Jankovic. With both players overflowing with personality and vitality, it was a match made in heaven, so good that Krunkovic was born as they teamed up for doubles at Portoroz this year. Despite Jelena having notoriously poor record when teaming up with her fellow Serbs, the pair gelled together immediately – moving into the semi-finals before Jelena was forced to withdraw with an injury.
The worst thing you can do to Aleksandra Krunic is misjudge her. Measuring in at around 5ft5 only, from afar she looks as cute as a button. Hell, I’d even say that she gives someone like Jie Zheng a run for her money in the cuteness stakes. But then she starts hitting that yellow ball, and suddenly all that cuteness is replaced with a mean and determined tenacity. Like Berankis in the ATP, though one of the smaller players on tour, she compensates for her height with smooth movement, a wide variety of shots and an abundance of court sense to back it up.
For those reasons, 2011 should be an exciting year for Alex. With a debut WTA main draw appearance to look forward to, in addition to hopefully more Krunkovic showings (Fed Cup, please!), don’t be surprised to see the name Aleksandra Krunic popping up time and time again in 2011.