Wednesday, 14 Jan 2015 11:00 | By Xinhua English
Yutang Sports: Australian Open has a ballkids program for each year’s game. This program selects ball kids from China, Korea and a few other countries to go to AO. It is part of AO’s pre-game program and attracts sponsors.
MELBOURNE, Jan. 13 (Xinhua)--Maria Sharapova and Australia's Thanasi Kokkinakis have unveiled the 380 ballkids, including six Chinese children, who will line the Australian Open courts during the tournament which starts next Monday.
World No. 2 Sharapova, undefeated in 2015 following her title win over Ana Ivanovic in Brisbane, said on Tuesday she was pleased to be back in Melbourne where she took out the title in 2008.
"I've had some incredible matches in my career here," she said. "I'm looking forward to a great couple of weeks coming up.
"I want to welcome all of the ballkids. You make our experience so much easier."
Kokkinakis, the world No. 147, harbors ambitions to break into the top 100 and believes he has the game to match the world's best.
"My goal is to crack the top 100 as soon as I can and then go from there," he said. "That's not easy but I think I've got the game and I've beaten a lot of top-100 players."
Kokkinakis, 18, a former ballboy himself, was full of praise for the hard work done by the 12 to 15 year olds who patrol the courts at Melbourne Park, often in searing temperatures.
"I appreciate everything you guys do because I don't want to be walking around for five hours picking up balls. It's a big help, especially in the heat we had last year."
Joining the 352 Australian ballkids at the year's first Grand Slam event are six Chinese, two Singaporean and 20 South Koreans.