MELBOURNE, Australia (AP)Talk about going bananas: There was an unusual show of sportsmanship at the Australian Open on Saturday, when one player, Dan Evans, offered a piece of fruit to his opponent, Andrey Rublev.
And the fifth-seeded Rublev joked after his 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 victory put him in the fourth round at Melbourne Park: ”He helped me with the energy.”
Rublev, a six-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist, compiled a whopping 60 winners in the match, with nary a slip-up.
But let’s peel back what happened in the most interesting sequence at Margaret Court Arena.
The snack-sharing came at a changeover late in the first set, with Rublev leading 5-4. The 25-year-old Russian wanted a little sustenance – tennis players often will munch on bananas during breaks in matches because they are a healthy, fat-free source of carbohydrates and potassium – but he realized the courtside allotment was gone.
Evans, a 32-year-old from Britain who was seeded 25th in the year’s first Grand Slam tournament, had just been handed a pair of bananas by a ball kid.
So Evans flung one of the yellow fruits from where he was sitting on the sideline with his left hand, and it traveled past the chair umpire’s stand and over toward the other bench, where Rublev grabbed it out of the air with his left hand. Both men are righties.
The seemingly effortless throw and one-handed catch were both impressive.
”I quite like him, so I shared with him,” Evans said. ”That was about it.”
Asked whether he would have provided the bit of food to someone he doesn’t like, Evans, in perhaps typical British fashion, replied simply, ”No.”
Rublev, who will face Holger Rune of Denmark on Monday for a spot in the quarterfinals, laughed about the whole thing when asked about it at his news conference.
He said he’s handed bottles of water out of a sideline refrigerator to foes in the past, but he couldn’t recall ever participating in an exchange of fruit.
”Just a nice and fun moment between us,” Rublev said. ”We have a great relationship between each other.”
Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at https://twitter.com/HowardFendrich
AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports