Storm Hunter has created history becoming the first Australian qualifier since Amanda Tobin in 1985 to reach the third round of the Australian Open. Her unlikely singles surge continued on Wednesday afternoon with a win over doubles rival Laura Siegemund in a nail-biting three-set match.
Hunter claimed her maiden Open singles victory on Monday and went from strength to strength two days later registering a gritty 6-4 3-6 6-3 win over the German. The Aussie ended 2023 as the world's No.1 ranked doubles player but had long struggled with Siegmund's unorthodox game.
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The German registered wins over Hunter at the season-ending WTA Finals in Mexico and in the United Cup semis earlier this month in Sydney but the Aussie was not to be denied at the Australian Open in front of a roaring local crowd. Despite breaking early in the third set, Hunter's mentality was tested after looking the goods just one point away from a 5-1 lead in the third before the German stayed strong, holding her serve and then breaking Hunter to get back to just one game down. The Aussie, however, held her nerve, breaking Siegmund's serve once again, securing a spot in the third round in front of friends and family.
Following the match Hunter was understandably emotional as she admitted she "never imagined" making the third round of a singles grand slam at this stage in her career. “Being in the third round is a dream come true,” she said in her post-match interview before holding back tears as she was asked what message she had for her family and team after her monumental feat.
"Oh, I’m gonna cry now," she said. "They’ve all been here, obviously my parents from since I was young they always supported my dream My husband (Loughlin), we’ve been together for 10 years and he’s seen everything. Me when I was injured, not playing, no ranking.
"Pratty (Hunter's coach Nicole Pratt), she’s been here since I was 17, she actually was the one who kind of believed in me from the beginning. She’s always backed me. To do this for her, it’s honestly amazing. She’s always been in my corner no matter what. I'm so lucky. She’s definitely the best coach on tour, I’m lucky I’ve got her in my corner."
Alex de Minaur full of praise for Storm Hunter
Alex de Minaur hailed the late-career charge of Hunter after she surged into the third round, stating that her level of tennis is "unbelievable". "I think I told her there (at the United Cup) I was so impressed with her level in the mixed. I thought it was unbelievable and the tennis she played throughout the whole of United Cup," De Minaur said.
"You know, I think it’s a pretty amazing achievement what she’s accomplished, considering the lack of preparation she was able to have going from United Cup straight into qualifying. So I think that needs to definitely be mentioned and taken into account. Now she’s in the third round of singles, which is great. You know, hopefully, this gives her the belief to pursue the singles career a lot more."
Hunter's third-round opponent is also a familiar foe in Siegmund's regular doubles partner Barbora Krejcikova, who stormed into the third round with a win over Tamara Korpatsch 6-2 6-2. Hunter is one of just two Australian women still going in the Australian Open, with Ajla Tomljanovic to play Jelena Ostapenko in the second round on Thursday.
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