source : www.abc.net.au
Storm Hunter has declared her pride as she stepped off a plane and onto the field to revive Australia’s ailing Billie Jean King Cup campaign.
Most important points:
- Australia lost 2-1 to Slovenia
- Hunter and Kimberly Birrell won the doubles
- Ajla Tomljanović and Daria Saville fell in their singles matches
Hunter flew to Seville from Cancun after contesting the doubles match at the WTA Finals, arriving just 90 minutes before the tie started on Tuesday.
The world number one doubles overcame both jet lag and the loss of her luggage to win a potentially crucial point for an Australian side that had already lost both singles matches to Slovenia.
Captain Alicia Molik’s reliance on the experience of Ajla Tomljanović and Daria Saville had backfired, with both players losing in straight sets, but Hunter teaming with Kim Birrell to win the doubles in a super tie-break.
It gave the Australians an invaluable lifeline despite losing their opening game 2-1, keeping their slim chances of reaching the semi-finals alive.
Australia must now beat Kazakhstan, including Wimbledon 2022 champion Elena Rybakina, on Thursday, hoping Kazakhstan then beats Slovenia on Friday.
“It’s not about me, it’s about the team. I’m so proud to win for Australia today with Kimbo (Birrell),” Hunter said.
“It’s been a busy 24 hours. As soon as I finished in Cancun, I tried to get here as quickly as possible, landing at 8:30 this morning.
“My bags didn’t arrive so that made it a bit difficult, but I had a few rackets with me and was ready to play today.
“I had my outfit, my shoes and was mentally ready to go if our team needed me to.
“It was obviously a quick turnaround, but for me, representing my country is the greatest honor and, honestly, the most amazing thing I could ever do with my tennis career.”
Hunter played with compatriot Ellen Perez in Mexico.
As rain delayed the final stages in Cancun, Perez, who reached the final, was stranded in Mexico, causing Molik further problems in her final tournament after ten years as Australia’s captain.
She had left the decision to Hunter, who had lost her doubles semifinal alongside Elise Mertens in Cancun, to make the decision on whether to participate.
Hunter and Birrell saved three set points before taking the opening set against Veronika Erjavec and 17-year-old debutant Ela Nala Milić 7-5, but their young opponents came back to win the second on a tie-break.
But Storm and Birrell showed their experience and won the super tie-break 10-5.
Earlier, Tomljanović, in only her sixth match of the season after missing most of 2023 following knee surgery in January, crashed to a 6-4, 6-1 loss to 22-year-old Kaja Juvan, the No. 104 seed world.
Saville, also on the comeback trail, lost to world number 100 Tamara Zidanšek, a 2021 French Open semifinalist, 6-1 6-4.
source : www.abc.net.au