Australian doubles star Storm Hunter has been caught up in a handshake storm after an intense battle during the Australian Open.
Hunter, the World No.1 in doubles, now pairs with Katerina Siniakova who previously combined with another doubles champion in Barbora Krejcikova.
Together the Czech combination won a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics to go along with their whopping seven grand slam titles.
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When they decided to stop playing doubles together at the end of 2023, it was by all reports a bitter and ugly split that had been initiated by Siniakova after year plagued by injuries.
On Wednesday during the clash with Hunter, all eyes were on the former pair given it was their first time they had faced off as opponents.
It was intriguing match, with Hunter and Siniakova staging an incredible fightback to advance to the doubles semi-finals.
All eyes were on Siniakova and Krejcikova when they approached the net. Credit: Stan
They battled back from 3-0 down in the deciding set to win their quarter-final against Krejcikova and Laura Siegemund in a thrilling 4-6 7-5 6-4 victory on Margaret Court Arena.
Krejcikova and Siniakova have won the past two Australian Open women’s doubles crowns but they have — by all reports — done their best to avoid each other in Australia.
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At the end of the match, they eyeballed each at the net for a brief moment before quickly looking away, as their teammates watched the frosty exchange with keen interest.
Fans and journalists were also eager to see how things would play out at the end of the match.
US journalist Andrew Jerell Jones wrote: “Not much love in that handshake by Katerina Siniakova and Barbora Krejcikova there … Not much at all.”
While another fan made an amusing observation of record cold temperatures.
“Coldest temperature recorded: 5 -63°C (Canada, Snag, 3.2.1947), 4 -67.8°C (Ru**ia, Omymyakon, 6.2.1933), 3 -69.6°C (Greenland, Klinck, 22.12.1991), 2 -89.2°C (Antarctica, Vostok, 21.7.1983), 1 -100000°C (Australia, Melbourne, MCA, Krejcikova-Siniakova’s handshake, 24.1.2024),” they blasted on social media.
After being Australia’s last woman standing in the singles following a career-best run to the third round, Hunter is now two wins away from capturing a maiden grand slam crown.
Krejcikova eliminated the 29-year-old from the singles with a three-set comeback win on Rod Laver Arena last week, but Hunter gained a semblance of revenge on Wednesday.
Hunter put away the winning backhand volley on match point after being the dominant player of the four combatants but said she really wasn’t sure how she and Siniakova had dodged defeat.
“We really had to dig deep and just trust each other and fight really, really hard,” Hunter said.
“We did that when we were down a break in the third.
“We just thought, ‘let’s just keep going, keep going’ and we somehow got the win, which was amazing.”
Hunter and Siniakova will face second seeds Hsieh Su-We, from Taiwan, and Belgian Elise Mertens – the Australian’s long-time former partner – for a place in the final.
Hunter’s mixed partner Matt Ebden is on track to snare a third grand slam trophy after reaching the men’s doubles semi-finals with veteran Indian Rohan Bopanna.
The second seeds beat Argentine duo Maximo Gonzalez and Andres Molteni 6-4 7-6 (7-5) on Wednesday to move to within two wins of the title.
Ebden and Bopanna will play the unseeded Czech-Chinese pairing of Tomas Machac and Zhang Zhizhen in the last four.
Win or lose, 43-year-old Bopanna will become the oldest men’s doubles No.1 when the new rankings are released on Monday.
Ebden won Wimbledon alongside fellow Aussie Max Purcell in 2022, and picked up the Australian Open mixed doubles with compatriot Jarmila Gajdosova in 2013.
The West Australian was top seed in the mixed doubles at Melbourne this year with Hunter but the duo suffered a surprise second-round loss to local wildcards Jaimee Fourlis and Andrew Harris.
Fourlis and Harris were then eliminated in the semi-final by third seeds Hsieh and Pole Jan Zielinksi on Wednesday night.
They were defeated in straight sets, 7-6 (10-8), 6-2.
– With AAP