Molik singles out doubles No.1 Hunter for solo success

Alicia Molik is nudging Storm Hunter to follow in the footsteps of grand slam champions Ash Barty and Sam Stosur and parlay her doubles success into a distinguished singles career.

Hunter on Monday became the first Australian since Stosur in 2006 to claim the women's world No.1 doubles ranking following a stellar two-title 2023 campaign that also featured a run to the Wimbledon final and season-ending championship semis alongside Belgian Elise Mertens.

Tellingly, the modern-day Rockhampton southpaw also continued to make big strides in singles with another heroic Billie Jean King Cup display for Australia.

She also qualified for the main draw at both the French Open and Wimbledon.

Alicia Molik
Captain Alicia Molik cheers on Australia at the Billie Jean King Cup finals in Seville, Spain.

Now Molik wants Hunter to kick on in singles, pointing out how Barty, Stosur and even American prodigy Coco Gauff, who won this year's US Open, both snared doubles slams before excelling on court without a partner.

"It's quite common. Even I had more success in doubles before singles. Every Aussie has trod that path, to be honest. It's almost a rite of passage," Molik told AAP.

"In a weird way, the years on tour, building confidence, the titles in doubles and then singles careers generally often kick off after doubles success.

"The belief as well from doubles wins, it does translate to singles."

Despite being Australia's last woman standing in singles at Roland Garros this year and recording the nation's only singles win at last week's Billie Jean King Cup finals in Spain, Hunter remains ranked 177th in the world.

Because of prioritising doubles, her highest singles ranking so far was No.118 in late 2021.

But Molik, Australia's departing BJK Cup captain, hopes Hunter will have a rethink.

"Maybe capturing No.1 in doubles might free her up to potentially play a few more singles events," Molik said.

"She might think, 'Well I've done that now and, yeah, there's lots of attention on doubles, but I don't need to prove myself in doubles'.

"I know she wants to get a slam, but she might just free up a bit with decision-making with other (singles) events."

Molik believes 29-year-old Hunter's best days are ahead at a time when 40 is increasingly proving the new 30 in professional sport.

"Storm's potential? Oh God, far out, I don't know," she said.

"Once you're in a slam, anyone can contend, and the success rate with age equivalent is getting later and later in women's tennis.

"In terms of strength, experience, resilience, it actually does come into play in women's tennis.

"We are seeing success a lot from more mature women now, which traditionally in the (Jennifer) Capriati, (Martina) Hingis era it was all sort of the real super young generation hitting the scene.

"But times have really changed."