Rafael Nadal’s forehands are ferocious and his fan Anita Birchall found that out the hard way, when she — as a ball-kid at Australian Open 2020 — got struck by one.

The Spanish world No 1 was in the throes of wrapping up his second round clash on Rod Laver Arena against Argentine Federico Delbonis when the unfortunate girl found herself in his firing line.

Nadal went over to check how she was and gave her a quick peck on the cheek for good measure, leaving the youngster blushing.

“For her it was not a good moment, I was so scared for her, the ball was quick and straight on her,” Nadal said after the match, giving her his headband as a momento.

“She’s a super brave girl. It has been one of the more scary moments of my career. I’m very happy she is good. She is brave. Well done.”

Nadal met with Anita and her family after the incident and spent time with them. “To my friend Anita, all the best” said the cap that Nadal gave to her.


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