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HUNTER STORMS PAST ERRANI WHILE PRESTON BOWS OUT



Storm Hunter is through to the 2nd round of the Australian Open for the first time in her career, defeating Italian veteran, Sara Errani, 6-4, 6-3.


Hunter stormed out of the gates, breaking the Italian early and maintaining her ascendancy.


The Aussie’s backhand was firing early, doing most of the damage on that wing. She also punished any short balls that came her way, as Errani struggled to stay in the rallies.


Notoriously erratic with her ball toss (there were at least three per game), Errani couldn’t get a rhythm on serve, with Hunter pouncing on the Italian’s weak second serves. 


After going through a shaky patch from 5-1 up, the 29-year-old Aussie held steady to serve out the first set, 6-4.


Hunter continued her momentum in the second set, breaking the Italian early before the match tightened up.


While Errani started to find her range, Hunter maintained her minor advantage, playing aggressive tennis and making good use of her doubles prowess at the net.


Hunter’s swinging volleys were particularly on song, taking the ball early after setting up the point by flattening out her backhand. 


The Aussie finished the match in style, smacking a forehand winner down the line to seal the match. 


After the match, Hunter was all smiles, particularly after having to win three tough qualifying matches.


“To qualify and win my first round of main draw here at the Aussie Open, it’s insane. It’s an amazing feeling.”


The Aussie credited the crowd as a major motivating factor behind her win, particularly with her success coming mostly on the doubles court.


“Walking out on Kia this morning, the crowd was incredible. The Aussie fans really got behind me. I’ve never had that feeling on the doubles court because usually I’m with a teammate. To walk out there on my own and to have the support just for me, yeah, was amazing.”


The Aussie faces the winner of Russian, Ekaterina Alexandrova and German, Laura Siegmund.


Hunter is also in action tomorrow, partnering up with Czech player, Kateřina Siniaková in doubles. 


Earlier in the day, Taylah Preston was outclassed by Ukranian, Elina Svitolina at 1573 Arena, 6-2, 6-2.


The Ukrainian is on her way back after giving birth to a baby girl in October 2022 with fellow tennis star, Gael Monfils. 


Preston won the first four points to break the former world number 3 but after that, it was all one-way traffic for Svitolina. The 18-year-old’s lack of experience at this level was the key difference, in the end. 


While disappointing, playing on the main stage of a grand slam is a good stepping stone for the Perth youngster, who still has a long, promising career ahead of her.


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