Australian Open 2020: Frenchman Elliot Benchetrit hits back at critics over 'banana-gate'

Frenchman Elliot Benchetrit has defended himself against a growing social media storm, after he was recorded demanding a ball-kid peel his banana during Australian Open qualifying.

During his preliminary win over Kazakstani Dmitry Popko, the 21-year-old rookie, ranked 231st in the world, insisted a nearby ball-girl peel his fruit, but was put in his place by umpire John Blom, who told him to do it himself.

"What's next, grapes?" wondered tennis legend Martina Navratilova on Twitter.

But Benchetrit has responded to the criticism, claiming he had just put cream on his hands to stopping sweating and could not grip the banana.

"She had done it once before at the beginning of the match," he insists. "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 belive that the umpire said that and I find it incredible how this situation got out of control on social media without people knowing what really happened on court."

Benchetrit progressed to the main draw, where he lost to Japanese Yuichi Sugita in the opening round.