Giant American John Isner struck a young spectator on the head with a tennis ball in a freakish incident at the ASB Classic on Thursday.
Midway through the second set of his quarter final with Brit Kyle Edmund, the 2.10m Isner crushed a ferocious smash from near the net, after Edmund had thrown up a lob which landed short.
The ball, which probably would have been travelling at more than 200km/h, bounced into the court and over the barrier in front of the grandstand, hitting the young boy who was sitting in the second row of the Robinson Stand.
"It was a little bit unfortunate because I hit the overhead and it ricocheted off the top of the post and it shot forward and got him," Isner told NZME post-match.
The boy grimaced in pain for a few moments, before ducking his head, probably not knowing whether to laugh or cry.
The match umpire asked if he was okay, and play was momentarily halted, while he was checked and a concerned Isner stood by the net.
A ballboy then delivered some ice, which he held against his head for the next few minutes.
At the next change of ends Isner, who has been as high as No 10 in the world, walked down to the edge of the court to talk to the boy, who seemed fine.
"I hit him on the side of the head on the ear and he was tough as nails, he didn't ever complain, he just shook it right off," Isner said.
"He could play for the All Blacks in the future, he's a tough kid."
When the match was over, with Isner winning in two tie break sets, the American returned again to talk to the boy, who was all smiles after being promised the gift of a racquet from the two-time ASB Classic champion.
"His name is Charlie and I told him that I couldn't give him a racquet during the match, cos I kinda need them, but I told him I'd love to give him a racquet before I leave town."