Male models need to keep eye on the ball

Male models being used as ball boys at this week’s end-of-season WTA Championships need to keep their minds on the job and not be distracted by the female players, world number eight Elena Dementieva said on Monday.

”We were practising the other day and I don’t think they really know what they have to do on the court because they are too busy watching the players,” the 25-year-old Russian tennis star told reporters ahead of the Madrid event, which starts on Tuesday.

”We’ll have to see if it will work out or not, but I think it will be a distraction for them to do their job. I don’t think that they realise what they have let themselves in for, and that they will have to be very careful about what they are doing on the court.

”The players are so focused and sometimes they get crazy with the ball boys, so they don’t know what they will be facing in a couple of days.”

Organisers decided to use male models as an answer to criticism over the use of female models as ball girls at the men’s Madrid Masters.

Kim Clijsters, who won the tournament in 2002 and 2003, said the initiative had been a talking point among the eight players taking part.

”I was talking to Maria [Sharapova] in the taxi and she said they looked nice,” the world number six said. ”I’m excited about it, although it is going to be strange. As long as they do a good job, that is all that matters.”

Belgian Justine Henin-Hardenne, who is bidding to wrap up the year-end number-one spot at the championships, joked that her husband had warned her to be on her best behaviour. ”I’m very excited but I’m married, so I can look but not touch,” she smiled.

Martina Hingis added it would give her a chance to get even with boyfriend Radek Stepanek, ranked 19 in the world. ”Radek played here in Madrid in the past, so now it’s my turn,” she said. — Reuters

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