Melbourne, Australia, 12 January 2024 | Leigh Rogers

Storm Hunter is the world’s top-ranked doubles player and continues to prove she’s a singles threat too.

The 29-year-old achieved a rare feat at Melbourne Park today, becoming the first reigning world No.1 in doubles to complete a successful Grand Slam qualifying singles campaign in 18 years.

“That sounds pretty cool,” Hunter said when told of her accomplishment.

“I’ve been in a lot of big moments on the doubles court and beaten a lot of good players, so I’m trying to use that experience in my singles and believe in myself.”

Her growing confidence was evident as she held off Czech teen Dominika Salkova to secure her place in the Australian Open 2024 main draw.

“Oh my gosh, I literally have no words,” Hunter beamed after sealing a hard-fought 3-6 6-3 6-4 victory.

“I was shaking in the last two games. She’s a quality player, she’s so aggressive and took time away from me, which was a little bit hard for me, because I usually like to be the aggressive one.”

Hunter, currently ranked No.179 in singles, finished the match with 30 winners to her opponent’s 29.

“I’m just so happy, I can’t believe that I’ve qualified at my home Slam,” said Hunter, whose five previous main-draw appearances have been as a wildcard.

“I’ve qualified at the French and Wimbledon, but to do it here in Australia, which I think is the hardest one for us Australians to do, it’s amazing.”

History proves it is difficult for Australians to qualify at their home Grand Slam, with Hunter becoming only the third woman to achieve the feat in Melbourne Park’s 36-year history.

The only others to do so have been Kerry-Anne Guse (in 2000) and Astra Sharma (in 2019).

Hunter had extra motivation to qualify too, with her Perth-based parents arriving in Melbourne on Sunday.

Her mother, Genene, is yet to see her play singles at an Australian Open.

“It’s going to be really special to have them here,” Hunter said.

“I’m glad they’ll get to watch me in singles, doubles and mixed, which is pretty cool.”

It has been a successful qualifying event for Australian contenders, with Dane Sweeny and Omar Jasika also earning a spot in the men’s singles main draw. This is the most Aussie players to qualify at an Australian Open since 1992.

Main-draw action begins on 14 January, marking the first Sunday start in the tournament’s history.

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Aussies in action – Australian Open

Women’s qualifying singles, final round
Storm Hunter (AUS) d Dominika Salkova (CZE) 3-6 6-3 6-4
[1] Dayana Yastremska (UKR) d [WC] Maya Joint (AUS) 6-2 1-6 6-4
[2] Renata Zarazua (MEX) d Destanee Aiava (AUS) 6-7(5) 6-3 6-4
[24] Daria Snigur (UKR) d [WC] Maddison Inglis (AUS) 6-2 5-7 6-3
Maria Timofeeva d Priscilla Hon (AUS) 6-2 4-6 6-1

Men’s qualifying singles, final round
[WC] Dane Sweeny (AUS) d [22] Zizou Bergs (BEL) 5-7 7-5 2-0 ret.
[WC] Omar Jasika (AUS) d Abdullah Shelbayh (JOR) 2-6 6-1 6-2

> READ: Aussie hopes handed difficult draws at Australian Open 2024

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