Alicia Molik has urged doubles sensation Storm Hunter to follow in the footsteps of Aussie grand slam champions Ash Barty and Sam Stosur and turn her doubles success into a singles career. On Monday Hunter became the first Australian since Stosur in 2006 to claim the women's world No.1 doubles ranking.
Hunter completed the feat on the back of two titles in 2023, which included a run to the Wimbledon final. The Rockhampton local has continued to improve her singles game, qualifying for the French Open and Wimbledon and putting in a heroic Billie Jean King Cup display last week.
Molik, who captained Australia at the Billie Jean King (BJK) Cup, has high hopes for the Aussie and wants to see her focus switch to singles. She pointed to Barty, Stosur and American prodigy Coco Gauff as examples of players who took out doubles slams and then went on to excel in singles.
"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."
Hunter's highest singles ranking so far in her career was No.118, which she recorded in late 2021, but Molik believes she can achieve greatness in singles if she changes her priorities. "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."
Storm Hunter's best is yet to come
Molik believes the 29-year-old has tonnes of potential and with 40 becoming the new 30 in professional tennis, the former BJK Cup captain believes her best days are still ahead of her. "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."
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