In a heartwarming moment, World No.1 Rafael Nadal came up with a kind gesture to comfort a ball girl with a kiss after hitting her in the face during his second-round victory over Federico Delbonis at the Australian Open earlier today.
The defending runner-up clinched a business-like 6-3, 7-6, 6-1 victory over his Argentinian opponent and booked a place in the third round at Melbourne Park in the process.
However, in the fifth game of the third set, Nadal caught the ball girl with an unintentional groundstroke off a long serve from Delbonis.
The 19-time Grand Slam champion made up for his misplaced shot, however, as he rushed over to check if she was ok, and gave her a kiss on the cheek to help cheer her up, much to the admiration of the fans in attendance.
There was then a huge round of applause from the crowd on Rod Laver Arena when she resumed her duties the following point.
After completing the match, Nadal once again checked on the ball girl’s wellbeing and then gave her his bandana as a souvenir.
Rafa even admitted it was one of his scariest moments ever on-court in his post-match interview.
“For her, it was not a good moment. She’s super brave. The ball was straight on her head,” he said.
“That was one of the scariest moments when the ball struck her. I remember a moment like that at Wimbledon many years ago, so I’m glad she’s ok.”
The 33-year-old was also honoured with the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award at the 2019 ATP Ceremonies. He received the accolade for a second straight year and third time overall for his fair play, professionalism and integrity on and off the court.
Nadal will next face the No.27 seed Pablo Carreno Busta in the third round and holds a 4-0 head-to-head record against his compatriot.