Stefanos Tsitsipas was inches away from being defaulted at the Australian Open when he almost caught a ball kid after lashing out at a ball in anger.
The Greek star advanced to the semi-finals of the Aus Open after defeating Jiri Lehecka in straight sets.
However, it almost ended in disaster after Tsitsipas was called out for ‘dangerous’ actions in the third set.
The tennis superstar lost a point to his Czech counterpart and angrily whacked the ball in frustration into the back wall.
Only, he hadn’t realised that the ball kid had started moving toward the wayward ball in order to pick it up.
The ball was a fair few inches away from catching the kid, however, Tsitsipas almost found himself on the end of a disqualification.
Commentator Jim Courier noted on Channel 9: “Tsitsipas just got really lucky.
"He swings in anger and it nearly hits the ball kid, and if it does, he's shaking hands a loser in this match.
"You cannot do that. You have to be careful. That was dangerous."
While the kid wasn’t harmed in the end, the rulebook could have come down hard on Tsitsipas.
The ATP rules read: “Players shall not violently, dangerously or with anger hit, kick or throw a tennis ball while on the grounds of the tournament site except in the reasonable pursuit of a point during a match (including warm-up).”
And: “For purposes of this rule, abuse of balls is defined as intentionally or recklessly hitting a ball out of the enclosure of the court, hitting a ball dangerously or recklessly within the court or hitting a ball with disregard of the consequences."
Whoa... 😬 Stefanos Tsitsipas came THIS close to hitting a ball kid out of frustration in an incident eerily reminiscent of Novak Djokovic's controversial US Open default. 😳— Wide World of Sports (@wwos) January 24, 2023
🖥️ #AusOpen LIVE | https://t.co/80XjQpwd6J#9WWOS #Tennis pic.twitter.com/yxmOy1xacs
The 24-year-old addressed the incident following the match and attempted to play it down.
He said: “I saw the ball kid when the ball came back. I'm a professional tennis player.
“I was not aiming for the ball kid obviously. I saw the wall, just went back towards the ball.
"The kid, in my eyes, was pretty far away from me. Would have really had to miss to hit that ball kid. Of course, it's not nice even to hit it back towards the wall.
"I personally don't think I hit it too hard. What I did ... definitely I'm not happy about that. I shouldn't have done it. But it was part of the moment.
“My ball fell short, there was a little bit of frustration there. But things happen."
Novak Djokovic defaulted for a similar reason at the US Open in 2020 when he hit a ball out in anger and it hit a line judge in the neck.
Featured Image Credit: @wwos/Twitter.
- US star ‘a little embarrassed’ after celebrating victory too early during Australian Open
- Novak Djokovic in hot water after being passed 'secret note' by his coaches during Australian Open
- Stefanos Tsitsipas' dad under fire over for his actions during the Australian Open final
- Tennis fans claim 'Netflix curse' is real after all 10 players from Break Point crash out of Australian Open