In her best-ever showing at a grand slam, Storm Hunter fought valiantly but was ultimately outclassed by 9th seed, Barbora Krejčíková, 6-4, 5-7, 3-6 in the third round.
Speaking to the media after the match, Hunter was in good spirits, despite the loss.
“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 would say. 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.”
Facing her third doubles specialist in a row after Sara Errani (previous #1) and Laura Siegemund (current #5), the 2021 French Open singles champion and current world number 11 Krejčíková was always going to be Hunter’s toughest challenge
In a topsy-turvy first set, both players traded breaks early, with Hunter coming out as the front-runner.
Playing the aggressive style that’s won her five straight matches since qualies, it was again her backhand that did the damage early, a lethal shot when the Aussie flattens it out.
With a high first-serve percentage of 72% and a low unforced error count, Hunter finally served out the first set.
The second set was a different story as both players found their groove, not letting up on serve.
Despite half the crowd leaving after the Djokovic/Etcheverry match, the noise levels remained high as the quality of tennis started to rise.
While the Czech is a crafty player who likes to mix up the spin, pace and direction of the ball, she’s also capable of going after her shots.
Hunter pushed hard at the latter end of the second set but the Krejčíková rode her luck, hitting several lines to stay in the match, eventually breaking Hunter to steal the set.
Krejčíková continued this momentum into the third set, draining the crowd’s energy levels as Hunter couldn’t find any answers.
The Aussie’s level dipped at the start of the third, enough for Krejčíková to take full advantage of, sealing the match in style with a clean forehand winner.
Despite the dip in level at the start of the third, Hunter believes she can compete with the best in the world after matching it with the world number 11 for nearly two hours.
“I think I can replicate it, but it was a high level. Yeah, it gives me confidence that if I can keep building on that and the belief now is there, that I can do that, and I have the game and the aggressiveness to actually hurt players, it's just being able to do that consistently..”
Playing more like a top 20 player rather than her current world ranking of 180 would suggest, Hunter said she gained confidence from her recent hot run of form in singles.
“Yeah, I think this definitely gives me a lot of belief in my singles. Not just one match, but yeah, having six really good matches. We'll go back and analyse and look at what we can keep working on and go from there.”
As her focus turns to doubles, Hunter commented on whether she would consider focusing on singles ahead of her success at this year’s Australian Open
“It's definitely a consideration. I wouldn't say it's a consideration right now. I think where my rankings are I can still kind of do both at the moment. There potentially may be that decision down the line, but for now, no.”
Barbora Krejčíková has booked a fourth-round date with 16-year-old teenage sensation, Mirra Andreeva, while Hunter is in action today in doubles with Kateřina Siniaková and mixed doubles with Matt Ebden.