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THE County Durham grandparents of a boy who was left in tears when he was hit by a tennis ball at the Australian Open say he is all smiles now after a special gift from the player.
Finlay Crane was hit in the stomach by a stray ball from Nick Kyrgios, during the quarter-final of the men’s doubles on Tuesday.
Australian Kyrgios, playing alongside Thanasi Kokkinakis, has slammed the ball into the court so hard that it bounced into the crowd.
The ball, travelling at an estimated 75mph, struck the nine-year-old who was watching the match with his mum Fiona and friends.
When the crowd gasped and he realised what he had done, 26-year-old Kyrgios looked upset and immediately sought to make amends.
He grabbed a spare racket from his bag and handed it to a spectator to be passed back to Finlay whose face soon lit up at the special gift.
Nick Kyrgios winces as he realises his stray tennis ball hurt a boy in the Australian Open crowd Pictures: EUROSPORT
Nick Kyrgios passes a racket into the crowd for the teary-eyed youngster Pictures: EUROSPORT
Finlay’s parents, draughtsman Steven and Fiona, who works in a hospital, emigrated Down Under from Toft Hill, near Bishop Auckland, about 14 years ago.
The couple, who also have a 12-year-old son called Charlie, say the incident put Finlay in the spotlight.
Photographs and footage of the accident have shared by newspapers and websites around the world and Finlay has even been interviewed on breakfast TV in Australia.
Fiona Crane comforts Finlay Pictures: EUROSPORT
Grandmother Hazel Crane, of High Etherley, said: “It was just one of those things, sometimes you’re in the right or wrong place.
“He looked hurt but he’s alright now.
“He’s so excited about it getting the racket and everyone talking about it.
“Steven said he’s been on breakfast TV and having his little moment of fame.
“Children are on their six weeks holiday out there now so by the time he gets back to school they’ll be talking about something else.”
His grandfather David Crane said: “Our Steven sent me a video message and I didn’t realise at first it was Fiona and Finlay in the crowd, but then our son Michael told us.
“I could hardly believe it.
“We usually go out there at Christmas to see them but because of the pandemic it’s been more than two years since we’ve seen them in person.
“We keep in touch and get sent lots of pictures but this one was a surprise. He is fine now, in fact he sounded all hyped up with the attention.”
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