Melbourne, Australia, 20 January 2023 | Leigh Rogers

Top-20 stars Ellen Perez and Storm Hunter have made winning starts to their respective Australian Open 2023 doubles campaigns.

World No.20 Perez and her American partner Nicole Melichar-Martinez needed only 56 minutes to secure their first-round win at Melbourne Park today.

The ninth seeds recorded a comprehensive 6-2 6-1 victory against Ekaterina Alexandrova and Vivian Heisen at Kia Arena.

Hunter had a much tougher challenge in her opening round. The world No.12 and Belgian partner Elise Mertens needed two hours to fight past world No.3 Veronika Kudermetova and Liudmila Samsonova 2-6 7-6(6) 6-1.

“They are two really quality players, so it was a really tough first round,” Hunter said.

“We just kept on fighting,” world No.5 Mertens added. “We knew it was going to change at one point. We kept believing it and we won the match.”

Hunter, a 28-year-old who lives in Melbourne, relished the home-town support at John Cain Arena.

“This is our first time playing together, so it was an awesome match to get through today,” she said.

Aussie wildcards Jaimee Fourlis, a 23-year-old from Melbourne, and Astra Sharma, a 27-year-old from Perth, lost their opening-round match to American duo Claire Liu and Sabrina Santamaria.

Aussies in action – Australian Open

Women’s doubles, first round
[4] Storm Hunter (AUS)/Elise Mertens (BEL) d Veronika Kudermetova/Liudmila Samsonova 2-6 7-6(6) 6-1
[9] Ellen Perez (AUS)/Nicole Melichar-Martinez (USA) d Ekaterina Alexandrova/Vivian Heisen (GER) 6-2 6-1
[Alt] Claire Liu (USA)/Sabrina Santamaria (USA) d [WC] Jaimee Fourlis (AUS)/Astra Sharma (AUS) 2-6 7-6(6) 6-4

> READ: Aussie men make winning start in AO 2023 doubles

Women’s doubles, second round
[4] Storm Hunter (AUS)/Elise Mertens (BEL) v Timea Babos (HUN)/Kristina Mladenovic (FRA)
[9] Ellen Perez (AUS)/Nicole Melichar-Martinez (USA) v Marta Kostyuk (UKR)/Elena-Gabriela Ruse (ROU)
[WC] Olivia Gadecki (AUS)/Priscilla Hon (AUS) v [6] Desirae Krawczyk (USA)/Demi Schuurs (NED)

> VIEW: Full Australian Open 2023 women’s doubles draw

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