Tennis fans applaud Australian Open player's heartwarming act for distressed ballkid

The American won over tennis fans' hearts after attending to a ballkid suffering from heat stress.

Peyton Stearns at the Australian Open.
Peyton Stearns warmed fans' hearts after running off court in a critical moment of her first-round Australian Open match to lend a helping hand to a struggling ballkid. Image: Getty

Budding American tennis star Peyton Stearns has warmed fans' hearts after running off the court in a critical moment of her first-round Australian Open match to lend a helping hand to a struggling ballkid. Stearns was on set point in the second set against 14th seed Daria Kasatkina when the Melbourne Park heat became too much for the young helper.

The 31-degree Melbourne heat was deceiving as temperatures in the sun on the Kia Arena court would have felt more like 40 degrees. As the ballkid was attended to in the shade by tournament officials, Stearns was on hand to help, rushing over with an ice towel.

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The crowd rose to their feet and applauded her kind act. "Oh, wow, what an act," one commentator said. Stearns went on to win the second set, however, could not go on with it, losing the match 6-2 3-6 6-2.

It was the first Australian Open main draw appearance for the 22-year-old who rose to No.48 in the world on the back of a stellar US Open run last year. The American made it to the fourth round of last year's US Open before falling to Marketa Vondrousova.

Iga Swiatek says Ash Barty inspired her to reach world No.1

Iga Swiatek paid tribute to Ash Barty for inspiring her to reach undisputed world No.1 following her first round win at the Australian Open. The Aussie Open title favourite extended her winning run to 17 matches on Tuesday after sweeping past 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin in the first round.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 14:  Ash Barty of Australia (R) and Iga Świątek of Poland take part in Kids Tennis Day presented by Emirates ahead of the 2023 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 14, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Graham Denholm/Getty Images)
Iga Swiatek credits Ash Barty for inspiring her to reach undisputed world No.1. Image: Getty (Graham Denholm via Getty Images)

Following her win, the world No.1 spoke on how Barty's success at the top of the women's game was a pivotal moment in her career. "Ash changed my mindset going into 2022 and I think that was a breakthrough for me," said 22-year Swiatek, who has won three of the past four French Opens and the 2022 US Open.

"I was a top-10 player but it was still tough to play against her and to win points and she really motivated me. It's not obviously the only reason, but I felt like it's one of the reasons I later became No.1 because I just felt I had more variety because I started practising the kind of stuff just to be able to play against her, getting back slices and everything."

Swiatek enjoyed a friendly hit out at Melbourne Park last year and said she was always annoyed at Barty's game being better than hers but used it as motivation. "It was really annoying losing against her and playing against her because, you knew how she was going to play in terms of the tactics and the placement," said Swiatek, who lost her only two competitive matches against Barty.

"But she did it so well, there was nothing you could do. It really annoyed me. I wanted to get better ... yeah, she really motivated me."

- with AAP

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