Melbourne, Australia, 22 January 2023 | Darren Parkin

Storm Hunter has continued her incredible run of doubles form, combining with new partner Elise Mertens to reach the third round at Australian Open 2023.

The fourth seeds controlled the match from the outset, producing a convincing 6-3 6-3 win over two-time Australian Open champions Kristina Mladenovic and Timea Babos.

“They’ve had a lot of success together, whereas it’s our first tournament together,” Hunter said after the win.

“It was a tough match and tighter than the score would say. We were looking to be aggressive, and we did well to compose ourselves when they challenged us in the second set.”

The 28-year-old Hunter (nee Sanders) enjoyed a career-best 2022 season. She won the US Open mixed doubles title with John Peers and made the women’s doubles semifinals in New York with American Caroline Dolehide.

Hunter and Dolehide also reached the quarterfinals at last year’s Australian Open, where they lost to eventual champions Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova.

Teaming up with a new partner has been seamless for world No.12 Hunter, who spoke about the key to quickly building a strong partnership.

“It’s a different experience with a new partner. You try to build trust off the court and hang out a little bit,” she said.

“If you get to know a bit about each other as people, it makes it easier to trust each other on court.

“At the end of the day, the key is to have a lot of energy on court and have a bit of fun. You play your best when you enjoy it.”

Hunter and Mertens will now take on Switzerland’s Viktorija Golubic and Romanian Monica Niculescu in the third round.

In men’s doubles action, Alexei Popyrin and Marc Polmans put up a brave fight against second seeds American Rajeev Ram and Great Britain’s Joe Salisbury.

The Australian Open 2020 champions got home 7-6(6) 4-6 6-3 in two hours and 10 minutes.

Max Purcell and Jordan Thompson also went down in a tight three-set match. Monaco’s Hugo Nys and Poland’s Jan Zielinski scored a 4-6 6-4 7-6(7) victory.

Aussies in action – Australian Open

Women’s doubles, second round
[4] Storm Hunter (AUS)/Elise Mertens (BEL) d Timea Babos (HUN)/Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 6-3 6-3

Men’s doubles, second round
Hugo Nys (MON)/Jan Zielinski (POL) d Max Purcell (AUS)/Jordan Thompson (AUS) 4-6 6-4 7-6(7)
[2] Rajeev Ram (USA)/Joe Salisbury (GBR) d [WC] Marc Polmans (AUS)/Alexei Popyrin (AUS) 7-6(6) 4-6 6-3

Women’s doubles, third round
[4] Storm Hunter (AUS)/Elise Mertens (BEL) v Viktorija Golubic (SUI)/Monica Niculescu (ROU)

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

Men’s doubles, third round
[14] John Peers (AUS)/Andreas Mies (GER) v [WC] Alex Bolt (AUS)/Luke Saville (AUS)
[WC] Rinky Hijikata (AUS)/Jason Kubler (AUS) v Tomislav Brkic (BIH)/Gonzalo Escobar (ECU)

> VIEW: Australian Open 2023 men’s doubles draw

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