From United Cup success to learning from the greats - Meet Storm Hunter’s next opponent.
Throughout the late 80’s to mid 90’s, German tennis peaked at an all-time high with 28 Grand Slam singles titles between the legendary duo of Steffi Graf and Boris Becker to show for it.
Having experienced a slight dip in producing the calibre of those champions, the likes of Alexander Zverev and three-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber have restored parity for a proud tennis nation.
Despite not considered in the same regard as those names listed, Australian Storm Hunter’s next opponent, Laura Siegemund, has been a consistent performer on the WTA tour and perhaps a touch underrated.
Off the back of the United Cup success earlier this month, the 35-year-old German caused a surprise to many on Show Court 3 to take down 17th seed Ekaterina Alexandrova, requiring a deciding set tie-break.
In an exclusive interview with The First Serve, Siegemund reflected on her hard fought battle against a world-class opponent.
“I’m really proud of my performance against a great player who is ranked very high,” Siegemund told The First Serve.
“I didn’t manage to find my best tennis at all times because it was really up and down, but I think I managed the important moments very well in which I was very tough mentally.”
It became apparent that Siegemund was keeping close attention on her upper leg with large amount of bandage strapped around it.
Despite the slight scare, the world number 85 laid those concerns to rest.
“I’ve played a lot of matches leading into the Australian Open whether it be singles or mixed doubles, so for me it was like going from zero to 100 at full speed with this type of intensity,” said Siegemund.
“The body takes its toll at some point, but I’m managing it and I’m sure I can recover well for my next match.”
In the second edition of the United Cup, Germany claimed bragging rights in what was a deserved victory demonstrating teamwork and an ability to utilise the strengths of each member.
Touching shoulder to shoulder with Alexander Zverev and Angelique Kerber throughout the tournament, Siegemund admitted that the experience to collaborate with them was priceless.
“It was an unreal experience and it’s definitely something different compared to when you are basically on your own battling in the singles,” she said.
“I really enjoy the team events and that’s why I signed up for the United Cup again even though I knew I wasn’t going to be playing singles because I love the team environment.
“Playing with Sascha (Zverev) in the mixed doubles was a really enjoyable experience and Angie (Kerber) is someone who I admire and look up to as a complete professional which also helps my own game.
She may have knocked out a top 20 calibre player in the singles yesterday, but Siegemund’s best tennis shines brightest in the doubles, as her ranking of number 5 in the world suggests.
Siegemund opened up on how her doubles experience and skillset is incorporated into her singles game.
“It’s not always easy to switch between doubles and singles, but I’m definitely incorporating different elements of my doubles game such as my net play and construction of points,” Siegemund said.
“My doubles has allowed me to elevate my game to a new level which I hope can help me perform at best not only for the Australian Open but also the rest of my career.”
Next up for the two-time doubles Grand Slam champion is an encounter with Australian qualifier Storm Hunter.
Due to Hunter ending 2023 as the number one doubles player in the world, this match will remarkably be fought amongst two of the top-five doubles players despite it being a second round singles match at a major tournament.
The two faced off against each other during the mixed doubles of the United Cup semi-finals almost two weeks ago, as Siegemund previewed the upcoming contest and opened up on what she expects.
“I don’t think I can take too much from that game given that it was a mixed doubles match and that’s now in the past.
“I’m expecting a really tough battle against Storm and the crowd is going to be on her side which will provide an extra challenge for me to overcome. I think she’s a really good player and is very dangerous, so I don’t underestimate her at all.
“I know I will have to prepare myself in the best possible way if I want to win, but I’m looking forward to the occasion.”
Laura Siegemund and Storm Hunter commence their second round clash today on John Cain Arena - not before 1pm.