For one poor ball girl on Thursday night, the sight of Rafael Nadal’s fearsome forehand will be something she won’t forget in a hurry.
At 4-1 up in the third set, Nadal returned a forehand down the line, but wide, with Federico Delbonis serving at 15/40.
Hearing a line judge call ‘Out’ on the first serve, a ball girl stepped out from beside the umpires chair, only to be hit straight on the side of her head by Nadal’s wayward return.
Ouch, that’s gotta hurt!
Nadal immediately rushed to check if she was okay, kissed her on the cheek, and after his 6-3, 7-6(4), 6-1 victory for a place in the Australian Open third round, handed the ball girl a headband by way of apology.
“For her, it was probably not a good moment,” said Nadal. “The ball was quick and straight onto her head. She is a super-brave girl.”
When asked by on-court interviewer Samuel Groth about the kiss, the former Australian pro told Nadal, “Don’t worry about your wife for a second…”
Nadal smiled, saying, “Probably after 15 years she (my wife) doesn’t care much.
“It was one of my most scary moments that I had on the tennis court, as the ball went straight onto her head. I had a moment at Wimbledon a long time ago.”
Nadal was presented with the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award for the third time (also 2010 and 2018) during the ATP Cup in Perth two weeks ago.