World No. 229 Benchetrit handed the banana to the ballgirl before umpire John Blom stepped in and told him off.
Benchetrit, whose fingers on his right hand were heavily tapped up, then attempted to open the banana with his teeth.
Today co-host Stefanovic was disgusted by the Frenchman’s request, calling the incident “rank” and “terrible”.
“That is pretty rank isn’t it, asking a ballgirl to peel a banana?” Stefanovic said on Tuesday.
“Asking a ball-person to do that is disgusting. I think it’s terrible.”
Sydney Morning Herald columnist Jessica Irvine agreed, suggesting ballkids should not be given “outrageous” tasks.
“It’s rigorous training to be a ball-person, you’ve got to be very professional, and I really don’t think that peeling bananas is part of the division of labour,” Irvine said on the Channel 9 program.
“If she did it, she should get a pay rise. That is not the point of having ballgirls and ballboys around, their job is to get the ball. That’s outrageous.”
Also appearing on Today, AFL legend Nathan Brown playfully suggested: “We need to peel our own bananas, I reckon … unless we need a smoothie. Take it away, into the kitchen, I’d love a smoothie. Bring it back out, little bit of honey.”
The incident brought back memories of American CoCo Vandeweghe at the 2018 Australian Open when she blew up about the lack of bananas available to her during her first-round loss to Timea Babos.
“How are they not on court? I mean, c’mon that’s not my fault,” Vandeweghe said during an argument with the chair umpire at Melbourne Park two years ago.
“I have needs and it’s not my fault that this court is ill prepared.”
Benchetrit went on to win his qualifying match and will face Japan’s Yuichi Sugita, ranked 84th in the world, in round one of the Australian Open this afternoon.
AUSSIE REACTS TO MORE HOME DISAPPOINTMENT
Samantha Stosur is vowing to return for a 19th Australian Open tilt despite another disappointing first round exit.
Stosur was never really in the hunt against American teenage qualifier Caty McNally, falling 6-1 6-4 in their Monday night clash.
The loss stretched her first round misery to five successive years at Melbourne Park. The Queenslander will now concentrate on defending her Open doubles crown, won with Chinese partner Zhang Shuai in 2019, although this year she is playing with fellow Australian Ellen Perez.
Soon to be 36, Stosur said she hoped to return to Melbourne Park in 2021.
“I want to keep playing, no doubt,” Stosur said. “I guess my ranking is going to see where that allows me to keep playing.
“If I can win matches and do the things that I think I’m still capable of, then hopefully I’m still in the main draw of grand slams and having another shot.”
While she admitted that in the past the pressure of playing in a home slam had been tough to handle, Stosur said she couldn’t use that as an excuse.
“I don’t use that as a reason or an excuse or anything like that,” she said.
“There’s certainly been years in the past where I did struggle with that but at the moment I don’t think it’s that.”
She said the conditions at Melbourne Park, as well as the balls, didn’t really suit her game.
“I think the conditions I find really hard with these courts and balls,” Stosur added.
“I just don’t get the same reward off the court as what I do outside of Australia and I find that difficult every single time.”
While grand slam singles titles may now be beyond her, Stosur said she is aiming to compete in a fifth Olympic Games in Tokyo, starting late July.
“If I can make it to a fifth Olympics, that would be quite incredible,” she said.
“That would definitely be a highlight of the year down the track if I’m able to get myself to Tokyo.”