Do ballkids get paid? 8 questions we have about the Australian Open, answered.

Former world No.1 Andy Murray defeated Thanasi Kokkinakis in a five-set comeback victory overnight, earning a spot in the third round of the Australian Open.

The lengthy match, which ended just after 4am, almost beat the 2008 record for the latest grand slam finish.

After tuning in to watch the Australian Open, we've started to ask ourselves some very serious, high brow questions.

For example, why wasn't Andy Murray allowed to have more than one toilet break during his six-hour match? What's going on with ballkids, and why are they constantly picking up used towels? And how much are tennis players really earning at Melbourne Park?

Watch: Nick Kyrgios on what people don't get about pro tennis. Post continues below.

Video via ABC.

Here are eight questions you've probably asked yourself while watching the Australian Open, answered.

1. Are there strict toilet break rules at the Australian Open?

During Thursday night's match, Andy Murray was the latest player to criticise the Australian Open for their stringent rules.

During his almost six-hour match against Thanasi Kokkinakis, Murray had just one toilet break.

When the time reached 3am, Murray requested another bathroom break before the final set got underway, only to be told he wasn't allowed as he'd already taken a bathroom break earlier in the match. 


"Do you know something? I respect the rules," he told the umpire.

"But it’s a joke. It is a joke and you know it as well.

"It’s disrespectful. It’s so disrespectful to the players that the tournament has us out here until three or f***ing four in the morning, and we aren’t allowed to go to the toilet and take a piss. It’s a joke, it’s disrespectful."

It comes after Novak Djokovic disregarded the chair umpires on Tuesday night when he bolted to the toilet.

In 2021, the ATP Tour implemented new rules surrounding toilet breaks. The rules limit players to one bathroom break per match for a maximum of three minutes.

Andy Murray frustrated over toilet breaks. Image: Getty.


2. Do ballkids get paid at the Australian Open?

For Wimbledon in the UK, ballkids are paid a fixed stipend of £200 a week for the tournament, totalling to approximately AUD$355.

As for the US Open, ballkids are paid USD$11 (AUD$15.90) an hour.

But at the Australian Open, the ballkids are not paid. Ballkids at the Australian Open generally range in age from 12 to 15 and receive a gift bag and food allowance while working at Melbourne Park. 

However, there is no monetary compensation, as it's listed as a volunteer position.


Reflecting on the 4am match finish on Thursday, Andy Murray said the late finish wasn't good for the ballkids.

"If I had a ballkid who is coming home at 5am, I'm snapping at that. It's not beneficial for them, the umpires, the officials, I don't think it's amazing for the fans or good for players."

Around 2,500 kids apply to be ballkids every year, with less than one in five of them actually ending up with the position. Those who do make the cut are working under strict conditions, dealing with temperamental pro tennis players, and working under the hot Melbourne sun.

Not to mention having to sometimes handle sweat-soaked towels...

@sydneymorningherald The Australian Open ball kids will march onto the courts at Melbourne Park on Monday and face their big challenge: The sweltering January heat, whacks from 200 km/h fuzzy yellow balls, and the demands of the world’s best tennis players. #australianopen #AO #aoballkids #ballkids #nickkyrgios #novakdjokovic #australi ♬ original sound - smh

3. Why do the matches go for so damn long?!

Many have highlighted that it's a bit silly to have tennis matches ending just before sunrise - let alone near midnight.

For Murray, his match started at 10.22pm and ended at 4.05am, with the match threatening the record for the latest grand slam finish which was at 4.34am in 2008.

Other sports have since taken measures to better protect the welfare of athletes and ensure their sport finishes at an appropriate time. 

As Murray's brother said: "Time for tennis to move to only one match at the night sessions at grand slams. This is the best outcome for all singles players. We can't continue to have players compete into the wee hours of the morning. Rubbish for everyone involved – players/fans/event staff, etc."


However, Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley said there was "no need to alter the schedule", which has been in place for years at the Australian Open.

"We've had years where we finish every night at 12 or before. But you've also got to protect the matches. If you just put one match at night and there's an injury, you don't have anything for the fans," he told Channel Nine's Today program.

"We'll always look at it during the debrief, like we do every year. We've had long matches before. But at this point, we've got to fit those matches in the 14 days, so you don't have many options."

4. How fast are the serves?

For the men, some of the most well-known players at the Australian Open have some pretty fast serves – ranging from 252km/h to 164km/h.

As for the women, they are incredible as well, with Belarussian player Aryna Sabalenka serving 190km/h this week at Melbourne Park.

@ausopen KING Kyrgios 👑 #tennis #ausopen #ao2022 ♬ original sound - Australian Open

5. How much money can a player earn at the Australian Open?

At the 2023 Australian Open, there is a historic high prize pool of AUD$76.5 million (a 3.4 per cent increase from last year) on the line.

The singles champion, both men and women, will receive $2.975 million, while singles semi-finalists will earn $925,000. The runner-up receives $1,625,000, and quarterfinalists get $555,250. Even winning the first round, players receive $106,250.

So there's a lot of money to be made!


As for doubles, winners receive $695,000, runner-ups $370,000, semi-finalists $210,000, quarterfinalists $116,500, and the first round is $30,975.

6. How many tennis balls does the Australian Open go through?

The short answer is... a lot.

Dunlop supplies all the tennis balls for use during the Australian Open, and six new balls are used for the five-minute warm-up and the first seven games, with six new balls then provided every nine games thereafter.

Overall, the tournament uses around 40,000 tennis balls every year, which they then sell for charity for $2 each.

7. Is there a stringent dress code like Wimbledon?

At Wimbledon, competitors must be dressed in suitable tennis attire that is almost entirely white. And fortunately at Melbourne Park, the vibe is very different!


Even the ballkids are wearing colourful uniforms designed by Ralph Lauren this year.

As for attendees, the dress code is far more casual than Wimbledon. The Australian Open recommends casual dress, sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses given the hot daytime conditions. 

As long as you don't wear thongs, singlets, ripped jeans/clothes, or sports shorts, you're good to go!

8. What is the food like at the Australian Open? What do the players eat?

As for the players themselves, they essentially get whatever they want. The chefs and hospitality teams receive long lists prior to the players' arrival informing them of their menu requests.

It's mostly healthy options, with bananas, dates, coconut water and salmon in high demand. 

They also often have to cater for the entourages who have travelled with every player as well - the coaches, physiotherapists, parents, partners and more. 

As for the ballkids, they are given food vouchers to use while at Melbourne Park, with a bunch of food options available in the various cafeterias, cafes, and pop up food spots across the arenas for attendees. 

@hangrybynature Who’s going to the Australian Open? 🎾 AD @ausopen #melbourne #melbournefood #placestovisit #ausopen ♬ original sound - hangrybynature

Feature Image: Getty.

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