MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Spaniard Feliciano Lopez showed a compassionate streak in addition to a dangerous serve by apologising to the ball-boy he struck in the groin at the Australian Open.
Lopez, seeded 12th at Melbourne Park, unleashed a 196 kmph serve which hit local teenager Sam Day during his second round match with Adrian Mannarino on Thursday.
Lopez grimaced when he saw Day doubled over in pain and both he and Mannarino approached the ball-boy out of concern. Day was escorted off court for a while but came back to stoically complete his duties.
Video of the incident went viral on social media.
The 33-year-old Lopez advanced to the fourth round on Saturday by beating Pole Jerzy Janowicz in straight sets and told reporters he had caught up with his victim the previous day.
”I just wanted to apologise and to make him happy for a while,“ Lopez said. ”I gave him a T-shirt and a wristband from the match.
”Yeah, it was very funny because he became very famous with his mates at school. Everybody was watching the video on YouTube. Thousands of viewers, I’ve heard.
”He was happy in a way, but he was also very fortunate when he was hit that he was okay after five, six minutes.
”He went out to sit down a little bit. I told him to go out. He wanted to continue to work. I told him, ‘no, better that you sit down for a while and then you come back’. I told him, ‘don’t worry, it’s going to be okay. This happened to me already a few times. So just go and sit down for a while and come back’.
“This is what he did. Luckily he is perfect and he is fine.”
Left-hander Lopez will battle Canadian eighth seed Milos Raonic for a place in the quarter-finals.
Editing by Sudipto Ganguly