US Open: Tsitsipas claims bathroom breaks are his 'personal needs' amid crowd jeers

By Sports Desk September 02, 2021

Stefanos Tsitsipas has defended his "personal need" for long bathroom breaks after being jeered during his four-set second round win over Adrian Mannarino at the US Open on Wednesday.

The world number three triumphed 6-3 6-4 6-7 (4-7) 6-0 but was booed by the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd after taking a bathroom break which exceeded seven minutes.

The Greek was criticized by Andy Murray, who said he lost respect for Tsitsipas after taking a lengthy break ahead of the final set in their five-set first round epic on Monday.

Alexander Zverev weighed in on the discussion, claiming Tsitsipas was communicating with his coach during his bathroom breaks, labelling them "ridiculous" and saying he had broken an "unwritten law".

Tsitsipas reverted to the rule book in his defence after beating Mannarino, insisting he had done nothing illegal and longer breaks were part of his "personal needs".

"It's just my personal needs," Tsitsipas told reporters. "Some people have other needs. Some people take much more than 25 seconds between points, which is fair.  

"I've done everything the right way. If I haven't I should be penalized. I completely agree with it. I should get a fine or be penalized if I haven’t followed whatever I've done correctly. But as far as I know, it is a necessity, it is a need when I'm out there playing and performing."

Tsitsipas said he felt fans who booed and jeered did not understand the game or his need to take longer bathroom breaks.

"I haven’t done anything wrong so I don't understand," he said. "The people love the sport, they come to watch tennis. I have nothing against them. But some people don't understand. They haven't played tennis at high level to understand how much effort and how much difficult it is to do what we are doing."

He added: "It is important. First of all, you carry less weight on you with all the sweat. You feel rejuvenated, you feel fresh, and you don't have all the sweat bothering you and coming in your face, on your fingers, everywhere all over your body. It makes you feel better.

"For me it is important to take that break. For someone else probably not. And everyone has his own time. I try and be as quick as I can. Sometimes I just need a bit more time."

Tsitsipas added that he was taken aback by the public criticism from Murray and Zverev.

"I never complain of what other players do," the 23-year-old French Open runner-up said. "My parents have taught me not to watch other people's business and concentrate on myself. Do my job.

"I just don’t understand when some players go and criticize other players, or during a match they put too much emphasis on it."

There have been calls for a hard cap on the permitted time for bathroom breaks, which American Sloane Stephens agreed with, speaking after her straight-sets win over 21st seed Coco Cauff.

"I don't think you should be gone from the court for six-eight minutes," Stephens said. "It's a long time to leave a match. That changes the whole momentum of a match.

"I can't speak for what happened in that match, but I do know on the girls' side, there still is a lot of that. It's gamesmanship.

"I think there definitely needs to be a rule or changes. They make a lot of rule changes for smaller things, like they took one minute off the warmup. If someone goes to the bathroom for nine minutes, no one says anything."

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    Taylor Fritz believes there would be no "harm" in Novak Djokovic competing at the US Open, although the American admits he is conflicted about whether he should be allowed.

    Wimbledon champion Djokovic has his route to Flushing Meadows blocked by red tape at present, with the United States refusing to allow unvaccinated foreign visitors to enter the country.

    US tennis authorities have pledged to adhere to government rulings surrounding COVID-19 protocols, despite including Djokovic on their entry list.

    For Djokovic to be allowed into the United States, it appears he would require a change of policy from law-makers, or he would have to be considered suitable for an exemption.

    Among those who would be eligible for such an exemption are "persons whose entry would be in the national interest".

    With 21 grand slam titles, Djokovic sits second on the men's all-time list behind Rafael Nadal, who has 22 victories at the majors. 

    And Fritz, ranked 13th in the world, said that while the situation is complicated, there is part of him that thinks Djokovic should be allowed to take part in the competition that starts in under a fortnight.

    "It's tough," he said. "I think on one side of it, I think it's tough to make certain exceptions to the rules for certain people.

    "I don't know how I feel about that, but then, at the same time, we're not the most COVID-safe country in general with how we are doing things.

    "So it does seem like, what's the harm of letting the best player in the world come play the US Open?

    "But like I said, at the same time, it's conflicting, because I don't know how I feel about making special exceptions just for one person because of who they are.

    "So I see both sides of the argument, to be honest. It's tough to differentiate, obviously. It's good for every player if Novak is not in the draw."

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