#FunSizeOnTheRise still applies at the US Open, where 5'5" world No. 141 Kristie Ahn is into the final 16, with a 6-3, 7-5 win over Jelena Ostapenko on Grandstand on Saturday. Her match point was sealed with an ace.
"It was exciting, because I hit an ace, which I never do," Ahn said. "I could finally let my emotions get to me. The crowd roared. It was such a cool environment. Yeah, when I looked back, I was like, You cried, what a little baby. All my friends told me they cried, too, so I guess that's okay."
The WTA doesn't even list her height; the 5'5" is according to Stanford, where she was on the 2013 NCAA Championship–winning team.
The Grand Slam breakthrough has been a long time coming: Ahn made her first US Open by winning three qualifying matches in 2008, when she was 16. She wound up losing in the first round, to Dinara Safina, and she'd go 11 more years without recording a main-draw major win. Despite that, she still got mixed up defending US Open champion Naomi Osaka.
Story time: Was walking back from my dubs match today and heard someone yell ‘It’s Naomi Osaka!’ Everyone started cheering and then someone goes, ‘No! That’s Kristie Ahn!’ Y’all...I’ve made it ????— Kristie Ahn (@kristieahn) September 1, 2019
Then this week everything changed, when Ahn—winner of the USTA's US Open Wild Card Challenge—scored a 7-5, 6-2 first-round win over Cincinnati finalist and 2004 US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova.
You guys.— Kristie Ahn (@kristieahn) August 28, 2019
Full. Circle. pic.twitter.com/NQKq0qTLtB
She then beat 20-year-old qualifier Anna Kalinskaya and 2017 Roland Garros champion Ostapenko, making it to Round 4 without dropping a single set. She next faces her first seeded opponent of the tournament, No. 25 seed Elise Mertens.
???????????? https://t.co/Kc5RvtEcvZ— Kristie Ahn (@kristieahn) August 30, 2019
Ahn, who started the year ranked No. 200, is now projected to break into the Top 100. Eleven years is a long time to wait for your breakthrough season, but right now, it all feels worth it.
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