Home » Aussie star ‘heartbroken’ as injury cruels Olympic dream

Aussie star ‘heartbroken’ as injury cruels Olympic dream

The devastation of a ruptured achilles tendon that will cost Storm Hunter a spot at the Paris Olympics served as motivation for her Billie Jean King Cup teammates, as Arina Rodionova and Daria Saville rallied to put Australia one point away from beating Mexico.

Hunter was courtside in Brisbane on Friday after scans confirmed the worst possible news for the left-hander who suffered the serious injury in the team’s final practice session on Pat Rafter Arena on Thursday night.

The 29-year-old, who is No.3 on the doubles rankings and was on track for a spot in Paris, could be sidelined for six months or more, ending her Olympic dream.

“I am devastated and heartbroken but incredibly grateful to be around the team and I know I have a great group of people around me that will help me get back on the court as soon as possible,” she posted on social media.

“Thank you so much everyone for your messages of support and love, I’m excited to stay for the tie and support our Aussie girls.”

Australian captain Sam Stosur called on Saville to replace Hunter, who limped into the arena on crutches to watch Rodionova open the tie with a big comeback win.

Playing for Australia for the first time in eight years, and after publicly lashing Tennis Australia for her Australian Open snub in January, Rodionova, 34, lost the first set but then won nine of the final 10 games to secure a 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 win over Giuliana Olmos on Friday.

“I’m just so happy I could help out the team a little bit … we’re just getting started,” she said after her win.

“It’s special playing for your country.”

Saville then defied her last-minute call-up to demolish world No.562 Marcela Zacarias in the second singles rubber, taking the first set in just 26 minutes and the second even faster, in 25 minutes, on her way to a dominant 6-1, 6-0 victory to give Australia a 2-0 lead.

Having been through serious injuries herself, including achilles surgery in 2021 and an ACL tear in 2022, Saville said she felt for Hunter.

“Yesterday was a pretty tough day for all of us, pretty emotional,” Saville said.

“It’s so nice to have Stormy here supporting us. Not long ago that kind of happened to me … so we’re giving Stormy a lot of love.

“I felt like I was pretty determined and clearly that showed.”

Stosur said the Australian team was “rallying behind” the injured Hunter and “wishing her the very, very best and the quickest recovery possible”, with the captain needing to make a replacement for Saturday’s doubles.

Hunter, who ended 2023 as the No.1 doubles player in the world, was set to play with Ellen Perez.

The Australians need only to win the doubles to secure the tie and passage to November’s 12-team finals in Spain in their quest for a first Billie Jean King Cup title since 1974.