Storm Hunter's breakout summer has come to an end after she was knocked out of the women's doubles in the Australian Open semi-finals. The Aussie fell to former tennis partner Elise Mertens and Hsei Su-Wei on Thursday 7-5, 1-6, 6-3.
Following the match Hunter and Mertens shared a frosty handshake after the pair suddenly went their separate ways at the end of last year. The former doubles partners were paired together in 2023 and even made it to the Wimbledon final but ultimately fell short, although they did win two titles during the season.
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In November, Hunter revealed she had surprisingly split with the Belgiun, saying they "just wanted to change and to have a new challenge". However, as they approached one another after the match, there appeared to be some simmering tensions as they barely acknowledged one other when shaking hands.
Hunter's new partner, Siniakova, had previously been competing in doubles with fellow Czech Barbora Krejcikova, with the two winning an Olympic gold medal together. At the Australian Open Siniakova and Hunter beat Krejcikova and German Laura Siegemund in the quarter-finals on Wednesday before ultimately being knocked out by Mertens and Hsieh.
Hunter loses doubles number one ranking
Hunter's semi-final loss ends her two-month reign as the world's top-ranked women's doubles player. She has ironically been surpassed by former teammate Mertens, who will assume the number-one status when the new rankings are released on Monday.
"I have no words to describe this match," Mertens said after she and Hsieh won the match. "It was a very tough match but, I'm very happy with the way we played. It was over two hours. Recovery is the key for now. We'll be back."
Mertens and Hsieh will meet either fourth seed Gabriela Dabrowski of Canada and Kiwi Erin Routliffe or Ukraine's Lyudmyla Kichenok and Latvian Jelena Ostapenko in the final.
Storm Hunter's unlikely singles run at Australian Open
Hunter was bundled out in the singles last week by Krejcikova but was thrilled with her performance. After being forced to go through qualifying, Hunter shocked the nation and herself by making the third round of the Australian Open.
Alex De Minaur and Ajla Tomljanovic have long urged Hunter to play more singles and the 29-year-old said following her third-round exit that it is something she will consider. "It's definitely a consideration - I wouldn't say it's a consideration right now (because) I think where my rankings are I can still kind of do both at the moment. But there potentially may be that decision down the line."
"I absolutely loved it out there. It was a lot of fun. Even though I didn't get the win, this whole week has been a win for my singles. I don't want to look at it as disappointing today because I enjoyed every minute. It's not every night you get to play on Rod Laver Arena after Novak and have all the fans out there.
"I'm definitely seeing it as a positive. I've played six really high-quality singles matches here. Any other tournament, that would be probably a win of a tournament."
- with AAP
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