World No.1 Storm Hunter will debut a new doubles partner at the Australian Open as she weighs up chasing singles success next year.
Hunter became the first Australian since Sam 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.
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But the 29-year-old revealed that she and Mertens had split with the Perth ace teaming with an unnamed partner for 2024.
“We’re not playing together next year,” Hunter said on Thursday.
“We just both decided that we wanted to play with someone different – nothing kind of really happened or anything. We just wanted to change and a new challenge.
“I’m really excited for who I’m playing with next year – I can’t say just yet but we have played together before and done well and I’m really excited for the challenge for next year.”
Storm Hunter will have a new doubles partner in 2024. Credit: Getty Images
Hunter has previously won doubles titles with retired champion Ash Barty, fellow Australians Arina Rodionova and Monique Adamczak, Czech Katerina Siniakova and Brazilian Luisa Stefani.
The crafty left-hander has also enjoyed success this year at a lower level with compatriot and Billie Jean King Cup teammate Ellen Perez, who reached the final of the season-ending doubles championship this month with American Nicole Melichar-Martinez.
Before departing her role as Australia’s Billie Jean King Cup captain, Alicia Molik urged Hunter to follow in the footsteps of grand slam champions Barty and Stosur and parlay her doubles success into her singles.
Hunter intended spending some time soaking up her new doubles status, which she hoped to maintain for as long as possible, but said she was still keen to explore her singles potential.
“My singles career is something that I really want to focus on as the singles I did play this year I actually did really well,” Hunter said.
“Obviously being world No.1 I want to keep that and I have goals in doubles that I want to achieve as well as I haven’t won a slam yet so that’s the big goal for 2024.
“It’s very hard to do both and I’m very aware of that but it is something I want to do while I’m fit and healthy.”
She said that due to her singles ranking of world 170 it would take some juggling and sacrifice to chase solo success.
Despite being outside the top 100 this year, Hunter qualified for the main draw at both the French Open, reaching the second round, and Wimbledon.
“It is incredibly tricky with where my singles ranking is as I have to go and take the time to play some smaller tournaments and put a lot of effort into my singles if I want to achieve that,” she said.
“But I really believe that I can get inside the top 100 the singles but it’s just trying to work out the balance.
“After the summer I’ll look at my schedule and try and play some lower ITF events, some smaller WTA events and really give myself a chance.”
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