Sport Tennis Australian Open Australian Open: Banana drama threatens to sour qualifier’s dreams

Australian Open: Banana drama threatens to sour qualifier’s dreams

Elliot Benchetrit's request got under the chair umpire's skin. Photo: Getty
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While Elliot Benchetrit has yet to split from the Australian Open, the French qualifier may experience a sour reception when he takes to the court for his first round match against Japan’s Yuichi Sugita on Tuesday.

Footage has emerged from the final round of qualifying last week, purportedly showing Benchetrit asking a ballgirl to peel his banana, to her — and the crowd’s — absolute bemusement.

In his defence, Benchetrit’s right hand was only a few degrees away from mummification, after sustaining severe blisters.

But umpire John Blom quickly spotted the farcical scenes, and played the role of stringent father, demanding Benchetrit peel it himself.

Taken aback by the official’s rebuke, Benchetrit proceeded to attempt opening the banana with his teeth — and it can only be presumed it was smoothie sailing from there.

However, the world no. 229 faced widespread condemnation from tennis media types and everyday punters alike, sparking cries of “entitlement” and “privileged creep” on social media.

However, the Frenchman is far from the first player in history to be criticised for treating volunteer ballkids with contempt.

Spaniard Fernando Verdasco infamously berated a ballboy at China’s Shenzhen Open in 2018, after he failed to promptly adhere to his demands for a towel. Sop that one up.

And even defending Australian Open champ Novak Djokovic has fallen foul of a little superiority complex, visibly frightening a ballkid after unleashing a tirade towards his players’ box at Indian Wells in 2017.

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