'Nasty piece of work': Australian Open player told off over weird ball girl request

Sam Goodwin
Sports Editor

There were bizarre scenes at the Australian Open on Sunday when Elliot Benchetrit was rebuked by the umpire for asking a ball girl to peel a banana for him.

The French tennis player was taking part in qualifying for the first grand slam of the year when he requested a banana for some energy.

‘SICK OF IT’: Ash Barty at centre of $71 million Australian Open drama

However with his hands heavily bandaged due to blisters, he asked the ball girl delivering the banana to peel it for him.

Elliot Benchetrit asked the ball girl to peel the banana for him. Image: Alex Theodoridis/Twitter

It was then that chair umpire John Blom told Benchetrit to peel it himself, prompting the Frenchman to try to open it with his teeth.

The ball girl looked rather taken aback by the strange request, while Benchetrit didn’t appear too impressed with the umpire.

Tennis reporter Lucia Hoffman slammed Benchetrit over the incident, while a number of other commentators and fans were a little shocked.

In good news for the Frenchman he managed to win and qualify for the main draw of the Australian Open.

Benchetrit will face Japanese world No.91 Yuichi Sugita in the opening round, earning himself a $90,000 payday by qualifying.

$71 million on the line in record prize pool

Ashleigh Barty joked she was sick of seeing her own face as she prepares to take top billing at the Australian Open.

No Australian woman has won the singles title in Melbourne since Chris O'Neil in 1978, almost 20 years before Barty was born.

But, as the world No.1 and French Open champion, Barty will be all too aware that fans will flock to Melbourne Park more in expectation than hope.

There is certainly no doubt who the star of the show is from a home perspective, with Barty's image adorning posters and billboards across the city.

"My face is everywhere a little bit, isn't it? I'm a bit sick of it to be honest," she said ahead of her opener on Monday night against Lesia Tsurenko.

"There's no extra pressure. I don't read the papers. I don't look into any more than I need to. I'm here with my team trying to do the best that we can.

Elliot Benchetrit in action at the 2019 French Open. (Photo by ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP via Getty Images)

"It's amazing to have so much support and so much love from the Australian public. I've really felt that in an exceptional way over the last 12 months. It's been incredible."

The laid-back Queenslander seems as well-placed as anyone to deal with the intense spotlight, and she is determined to enjoy rather than endure the next fortnight.

"It's been obviously an exciting 12 months since the last time I sat here," she said.

"It's been a really nice couple of weeks leading up to the Australian Open. Obviously coming back to Melbourne, I have really good memories from last year.

"It's important to embrace it, enjoy everything that comes along with it. You don't get to play an Australian Open every single week. You don't get to play a grand slam every single week."

The likes of Naomi Osaka, Serena Williams, men's defending champion Novak Djokovic and the great Roger Federer are among the international superstars in action as the game's biggest and best fight it out for a record $71 million in prize money.

AUSSIES IN ACTION ON MONDAY AND TUESDAY:

MONDAY

Women's singles, first round

1-Ashleigh Barty v Lesia Tsurenko (UKR)

Samantha Stosur v Catherine McNally (USA)

Lizette Cabrera v Ann Li (USA)

Men's singles, first round

Andrew Harris v 8-Matteo Berrettini (ITA)

John-Patrick Smith v 22-Guido Pella (ARG)

Jordan Thompson v Alexander Bublik (KAZ)

John Millman v Ugo Humbert (FRA)

Marc Polmans v Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ)

Max Purcell v Jannik Sinner (ITA)

TUESDAY

Women's singles, first round

Ajla Tomljanovic v 31-Anastasija Sevastova (LAT)

Priscilla Hon v Kateryna Kozlova (UKR)

Astra Sharma v 28-Anett Kontaveit (EST)

Arina Rodionova v Kateryna Bondarenko (UKR)

Men's singles, first round

23-Nick Kyrgios v Lorenzo Sonego (ITA)

Alexei Popyrin v 28-Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA)

James Duckworth v Aljaz Bedene (SLO)

Chris O'Connell v 17-Andrey Rublev (RUS)

Alex Bolt v Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP)

with AAP