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    I had put cream on my hands: Player on why he asked ball girl to peel banana

    France's 21-year-old tennis player Elliot Benchetrit, who was criticised for asking a ball girl to peel a banana during his match, has claimed he asked the girl as he had put cream on his hands.

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    Elliot Benchetrit has revealed how he was blasted by an umpire at the Australian Open after asking a ball-girl to peel his banana for him on Saturday. 

    The Frenchman, who has been embroiled in a sexism storm over the incident during the qualifying match, said John Blom told him the girl was ‘not his slave’ before telling him to open it himself.

    Benchetrit has hit back over criticism aimed at him, insisting he simply had cream on his hands. The incident happened during a break of play in his match on Saturday against Dmitry Popko, who he beat 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.

    As he rests in between games, a ball girl approaches him with a banana, and Benchetrit appears to request that she peel it for him, with umpire Blom stepping in to tell him to do it himself.

    But now Benchetrit has lifted the lid on Blom’s scathing remarks and has attempted to set the record straight on what happened on court. He said the girl had done him the favour before the match started and claimed that the situation had spiraled out of control after criticism on social media.

    ‘At 6-5 in the final set, during the changeover, I asked the ball girl to peel the banana for me as I had put some cream on my hands in order not to sweat,’ he said.

    ‘She had done it once before at the beginning of the match. But the second time the chair umpire stepped in and told me that the ball girl was not my slave and I had to peel the banana myself.

    ‘I could not believe that the umpire said that and I find incredible how this situation got out of control on social media without people knowing what really happened on court.’

    The World No 229 then struggled to open the banana with his teeth after the damning criticism aimed at him by Blom.

    Social media users were quick to condemn him, with tennis legend Martina Navratilova retweeting a video of the incident, writing: ‘What’s next, grapes? John did the right thing, that’s for sure.’

    After coming through his tie with Popko in Melbourne, Benchetrit qualified for the first round, but the Frenchman is now out after losing to Japanese star Yuichi Sugita in straight sets on Tuesday.

    Benchetrit lost out 6-2, 6-0, 6-3 in a straightforward outing for Sugita.

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