Sport Tennis ‘Peel my banana’, French tennis star demands: A short history of bizarre ballkid incidents

‘Peel my banana’, French tennis star demands: A short history of bizarre ballkid incidents

World No.231 Elliot Benchetrit. Photo: AAP
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French player Elliot Benchetrit has become the latest in a long line of tennis stars to draw attention to their on-court behaviour for the wrong reasons.

Footage has emerged of the world No.231 making a bizarre demand to a ballkid in the final round of Australian Open qualifying playoffs in Melbourne last week.

The 21-year-old can be seen taking a break in his chair, and asking a nearby ballgirl to hand him a banana.

He then goes a step further, asking the confused youngster to peel the fruit for him, to the crowd’s bemusement.

Match umpire John Blom spotted the odd scene, and wasn’t having it, directing Benchetrit to peel the banana himself.

The Frenchman went on to win the match and will face Japan’s world No.91 Yuichi Sugita in the first round of the Australian Open on Tuesday.

Benchetrit’s banana incident is far from the first time ballkids have been on the receiving end of peculiar requests and bad behaviour.

In August, Venus Williams needed a caffeine hit in the middle of her second-round match at the US Open.

Williams has been open about suffering from an autoimmune disorder that leaves her feeling tired and sluggish, and ordered a coffee from her team watching on in the stands.

Luckily, a Ralph Lauren-clad ballboy was on hand to assist with the coffee delivery, though catching Williams proved a challenge.

In 2018, Spain’s Fernando Verdasco ridiculed a ballboy for being too slow to deliver a towel to him at China’s Shenzhen Open.

The former world No.7 later hit back at suggestions he was disrespectful.

“Obviously I didn’t mean to be like that,” Verdasco was reported as saying.

“But I think with social media there are certain people who sometimes speak too much.

“I received many messages telling me to apologise – it looks like I did something really wrong to the guy, when it was my way of telling him that we have 24 seconds (between points).”

At the Australian Open in 2017 Italian junior Maria Vittoria Viviani was controversially disqualified from the tournament after accidentally hitting a ball at a ballboy.

Viviani insisted she did nothing wrong, and later admitted to reporters that she cried herself to sleep after the incident.

In 2015 at the Miami Open, Serbian ace Novak Djokovic left a ballboy shaken after shouting and snatching a towel after losing a set to Britain’s Andy Murray.

Djokovic, who claimed he was venting towards his coaches in the stands, copped a code violation from the umpire.

The 16-time grand slam winner also issued a video apology to the ballboy.

“I saw the replay. Unfortunately the ballboy was in the middle of it, and I really feel sorry and I regret that he was there,” Djokovic said.

“There was absolutely no intention whatsoever to hurt him or scare him in any kind of way, and I sincerely hope that he forgives me.

“I really apologise, and also as a parent, I do care about children a lot right now.”

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