Australian Open 2021: Ball-kid collapse adds to early Grand Slam drama

Early drama at the Australian Open hasn't been restricted to player tantrums, with officials at Melbourne having to deal with their very own medical emergency on Court 16.

The crisis was first reported early Tuesday afternoon, after a girl appeared to pass out from the heat in the outside venue, where world No.91 Lloyd Harris of South Africa battled Danish lucky-loster qualifier Mikael Torpegaard, ranked No.193.

Midway through the opening set, play was halted as the ball kid received medical treatment and was escorted off the court. 

The incident was first reported by Portugese tennis journalist Jose Morgado, who posted disturbing images on social media.

"Terrible situation on Court 16, as a young ball boy collapsed" he tweeted. "He looks better now and play is underway.

"Players looked very concerned, but all the staff was quick to help. Hoping it's all good."

Later, tournament officials corrected the gender of the ball kid.

"A ball kid was unwell during the first match on Court 16 today,” a tournament spokesperson told Channel Seven.

"She was immediately attended to by the medical team and will rest at home as a precautionary measure. She will return to her ball-kid duties later this week."

Temperatures were expected to reach the mid-to-high 20s Celsius on Tuesday, but the Australian Open's later start - due to COVID-19 - means players and officials will avoid the worst of the Aussie summer. 

The coronavirus has seen line umpires eliminated in favour of an electronic monitoring system, but ball kids have been retained, despite the tournament running into the opening weeks of the school year.