Andy Murray has put in a plea for the unpaid Australian Open ballkids after finishing off a marathon second-round defeat of Thanasi Kokknakis just before sunrise on Friday.

The father of four expressed his dismay at the youngsters being forced to stick with the match until the bitter end – and luckily it’s not a school night during this month’s Southern summer holidays.

Still, the 35-year-old has serious concerns on the issue in a country which leans heavily towards the nanny-state model with regards to health and safety.

“If my child was a ball kid for a tournament, they’re coming home at 5 in the morning, as a parent, I’m snapping at that,” Murray said.

“It’s not beneficial for them. It’s not beneficial for the umpires, the officials. I don’t think it’s amazing for the fans. 

“It’s not good for the players.”

Andy Murray changes his shirt as wins a second round marathon match. Photo Roger Parker International Sports Fotos Ltd

He added: “We need to talk about it all the time. It’s (AO scheduling) been spoken about for years. 

“When you start the night matches late and have conditions like that, these things are going to happen.”

Exploitation of ballkids at the Open is becoming an issue with the revelation that they have not been paid since a diktat issued 15 years ago.

With the Open as expensive as any of the other three Slams and a huge annual cash cow for Tennis Australia, calls are growing to join the other majors and resume paying the eager scramblers.

Ballkids at the US Open earn $10.50 per hour; at Wimbledon they’re given a flat rate equivalent of USD $250 per week.