Stefanos Tsitsipas has been irking his opponents and the crowd with his long bathroom breaks this week at the US Open.
The Greek tennis champion took another trademark long break then credited it for him being able to advance to the third round of the US Open on Wednesday.
Tsitsipas heard boos from the crowd after taking more than eight minutes between the third and fourth sets, but dominated after his extended toilet trip to win against Frenchman Adrian Mannarino 6-3, 6-4, 6-7 (4/7), 6-0.
Unbothered by that reaction Wednesday night, or the criticism he received from Andy Murray after taking breaks while beating him two days earlier, Tsitsipas pointed out that he’s doing nothing that violates any regulation.
Andy Murray said after his defeat that he rates Tsitsipas very highly as a player, but he has lost respect for him. “I think he is a brilliant player. He is great for the game. But I have zero time for that stuff, and I lost respect for him.”
The Grand Slam rule book just says players should take a “reasonable” amount of time, but does not provide an exact number of minutes that would be acceptable.
Tsitsipas defends himself over long breaks
“If I break a rule, sure, I’m guilty. I agree; I’m not doing something right,” Tsitsipas said after hitting 27 aces. “If I’m staying within the guidelines, then what’s the issue?”
Tsitsipas said he feels refreshed after he heads off the court to change his clothing.
Asked about the spectators’ boos, he replied: “I haven’t done anything wrong, so I don’t understand. The people love the sport; they come to watch tennis. I have nothing against them. I love the fans. But some people don’t understand. That’s all. They 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. Sometimes we need a short break to do what we have to do.”
Mannarino, who received some tennis balls and practiced serves to keep his shoulder loose while his opponent was away before the fourth set, agreed that the fault lies with the rule book, not Tsitsipas.
“He’s not doing anything wrong,” Mannarino said. “I think the rule is wrong.”
Controversy over vaccination
Tsitsipas revealed he had not been vaccinated against COVID-19 less than two weeks before the 2021 US Open. The world No.3 player said that he hasn’t even received his first dose of a vaccine and is waiting for it to be mandated for all players on tour, caused strong reactions in Greece and the tennis world.
Adonis Georgiadis, the Greek Minister for Development and Investment, said he has “saddened” by the announcement.
“Tsitsipas is a model athlete whose thoughts and behavior affects a lot of people,” Georgiadis noted.