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Roger Federer declares ballkids need to be shown more respect after Fernando Verdasco incident - 'It needs to be taken care of'

Andrew Hendrie in ATP Tour 10 Oct 2018
  • Federer says ballkids should be treated better
  • The Swiss used to be a ballboy when he was a child in Basel
Roger Federer with young fans at Qi Zhong Tennis Centre in Shanghai (Photo by Kevin Lee/Getty Images)

Roger Federer has called on his fellow players to show more respect to ballkids following Fernando Verdasco’s controversial moment with a young ballboy in Shenzhen a couple of weeks ago.

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Verdasco was condemned on social media by fans and pundits alike when he seemingly berated a ballboy for not handing him his towel quickly enough at the back of the court. Video footage quickly surfaced of the incident as the Spaniard appeared to shout and rant at the ballboy - watch it below:



Whether handling players’ sweaty towels every minute should even be in a ballkid’s job description is a debate for another time, and while Federer didn’t directly shoot down Verdasco’s behaviour, the Swiss legend did outline the need to treat them better.

One of Federer’s first experiences in a professional tennis landscape came when he was a ballboy at his native Swiss Indoors event in Basel, with the 37-year-old saying it was crucial that ballkids leave tournaments with “no negative” experiences.

“The ball kids are really important to us because they are also maybe the future of our game,” said Federer, who opens his Shanghai Masters campaign on Wednesday against Tokyo champion Daniil Medvedev.
“I was happy when I left a tennis tournament, I felt like: ‘Oh man, it was just all good.’ There were no negatives, so you don’t want to have them leave feeling like, oh my god, like I was not appreciated or I was not liked or it was actually a horrible thing, you know? So yes, it needs to be taken care of.”

The second edition of the Next Gen ATP Finals, taking place next month in Milan, will see players use a towel rack at the back of the court instead of throwing them to ballkids.

Meanwhile, Federer is preparing for his first competitive match since suffering a shock fourth round loss at the U.S. Open to John Millman. The 20-time major champion returned to action a couple of weeks ago at the Laver Cup exhibition in Chicago as he helped Team Europe to victory over Team World.

Federer, who hasn’t won a title since Stuttgart in June and is yet to capture a Masters 1000 crown in 2018, arrives in Shanghai as the defending champion after beating Rafael Nadal in the final 12 months ago.

“I like this part of the season,” said Federer. “It's always been a good [swing] for me. Maybe [the] conditions get faster, I'm not sure… It's helpful I have a home tournament [the Swiss Indoors Basel, on the surface] and the [Nitto] ATP Finals. I have been very successful, so clearly I hope for something similar again this year.”


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Roger Federer declares ballkids need to be shown more respect after Fernando Verdasco incident - 'It needs to be taken care of'

Roger Federer has called on his fellow players to show more respect to ballkids following Fernando Verdasco’s controversial moment with a young ballboy in Shenzhen a couple of weeks ago.

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