Did Tsitsipas take a bathroom break today?
While the rain and wind whipped around the outside of Arthur Ashe Stadium on Wednesday night, Tsitsipas faced off against Italy's Adrian Mannarino in the second round. After losing the third set in a tiebreak (7-4), Tsitsipas did his thing — he took a bathroom break. Sporting NewsStefanos Tsitsipas and bathroom breaks: Explaining 2021 US Open's biggest controversy
03 September, 2021 - 03:32pm
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NEW YORK -- Until now, 18-year-old Carlos Alcaraz has exhibited enough promise and precociousness to make people think he eventually could succeed Rafael Nadal as Spain's top tennis player. On Friday at the U.S. Open, with a dramatic five-set victory over No. 3 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alcaraz showed why he's been getting so much attention already.
With a tenacity to match his talent, and boosted by a rowdy Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd a tad tired of Tsitsipas' penchant for taking lengthy breaks between sets, Alcaraz won 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (2), 0-6, 7-6 (5) in just over four hours to become the youngest man in the fourth round at Flushing Meadows since a couple of guys named Pete Sampras and Michael Chang in 1989.
"I just don't know what happened out there in the court," the 55th-ranked Alcaraz said after what was only his 10th Grand Slam contest. "I can't believe that I beat Stefanos Tsitsipas in an epic match. For me, it's a dream come true."
He made sure during his on-court interview to thank the fans, who are making up for last year's absence -- no spectators were allowed because of the coronavirus pandemic then, but it's full capacity now -- with plenty of noise. They chanted "Let's go, Carlos!" They rose to their feet for ovations at various points, including right before the concluding tiebreaker, with Alcaraz waving his arms to request, and receive, even more support.
"He can be a contender for Grand Slam titles," said Tsitsipas, the runner-up at the French Open this year. "He has the game to be there."
In the day's final match, American tennis player Frances Tiafoe had a small, late-night crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium going wild on every point in an upset win that pushed the record for the latest finish in tournament history.
Tiafoe outlasted fifth-seeded Andrey Rublev 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (6), 4-6, 6-1 and reached the fourth round for the second straight year. Tiafoe, Rublev and a few hundred fans were left on the grounds by the time the match ended at 2:14 a.m. There were three U.S. Open finishes at 2:26 a.m., in 1993, 2012 and 2014.
Tiafoe had experienced five-set heartbreak before at Flushing Meadows. He lost to John Isner in 2016, Roger Federer in 2017 and Alexander Zverev in 2019 in five. Not this time. The 23-year-old fan favorite stripped off his shirt and celebrated with fans, before he sat on the bench and shook his head at his accomplishment.
The 2019 runner-up at Flushing Meadows has lost only 22 games in his three matches thus far.
Medvedev improved to 16-4 at the US Open, his best mark at a major.
Alcaraz showed off so many skills against Tsitsipas. Big cuts off both wings, so big that this was the assessment offered by Tsitsipas: "I've never seen someone hit the ball so hard." And that was backed up by the stats, none more remarkable than the one showing that Alcaraz finished with 45 winners off forehands and backhands, compared with 14 for Tsitsipas.
There was more. So much more. A serve with some pop, reaching 134 mph. Returns that were too much to handle. And drop shots. So many drop shots, some of which claimed points outright, others of which laid the groundwork for a lob or a just-the-right-angle passing winner. Alcaraz even won one point with the help of a back-to-the-net, through-the-legs tweener.
As impressive as all of that may have been, nothing stood out about the kid as much as the mental strength required to hang in there in the crucible of a Grand Slam fifth set in the biggest arena in tennis against a top player. Especially after getting shut out in the fourth.
"He dealt with it really well," Tsitsipas said.
And he meant everything: the scene, the setting, the stakes. Alcaraz had some fun along the way, too, interacting with the ticket-holders, pumping his fists, yelling "Vamos!" and, after some of his best shots, nodding confidently in the direction of his coach, 2003 French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero.
When it ended with Alcaraz smacking an inside-out forehand winner, he flung away his racket, dropped onto his back and covered his face with both hands.
"I had to be aggressive until the last point," he said later. "I think I did."
He stayed down for several moments, his chest heaving. After rising to go to the net, Alcaraz got a pat on the shoulder from Tsitsipas. Alcaraz then again put his palms over his eyes and squeezed his eyes shut.
This is the sort of triumph others have seen coming for him, and the milestones keep arriving.
He already was the youngest man to make two third-round runs at a major since Novak Djokovic in 2005. And the youngest to win at least one match at each Slam in a year since 1989, when that was done by Goran Ivanisevic, the 2001 Wimbledon champion who now is one of Djokovic's coaches.
Now add this: Alcaraz is the youngest man to beat a top-three player at a Grand Slam tournament since the ATP computerized rankings started in 1973.
"It was supposed to be my match. Today was a match that I shouldn't have lost," said Tsitsipas, who had been the subject of criticism from first-round Andy Murray and others for taking what they thought was too long when heading off court for several minutes for an allowed toilet break.
This time, Tsitsipas did leave after the third set, but just for a few minutes (Alcaraz departed too, and returned 30 seconds sooner). After the fourth, Alcaraz got treated on the sideline by a trainer who massaged his legs and lower back.
At the end of the fifth set, with the outcome in the balance, Alcaraz was better.
"You feel like you're in control and it doesn't really go your way at the end," Tsitsipas said. "It's kind of bitter, I would say."
02 September, 2021 - 03:31pm
Tsitsipas, who is hoping to win his first Grand Slam, defeated France's Adrian Mannarino on Wednesday. But after the match, the focus of the press conference questions was yet another mid-match break he took, this time after he lost the third set.
Tsitsipas, who was booed by the crowd upon returning Wednesday, has been criticized for leaving the court following Monday's first-round victory against Andy Murray, during which the Greek player took two seven-minute bathroom breaks and a medical time-out. Murray recently said he's "lost respect for" Tsitsipas for holding up the game and claimed his breaks "influenced the outcome of the match."
Alexander Zverev alleged Tsitsipas was using the breaks to text his father and coach, Apostolos, which would be a violation of ATP rules, USA Today reported. Zverev claimed: "He's gone for 10-plus minutes. His dad is texting on the phone. He comes out, and all of a sudden his tactic completely changed. It's not just me but everybody saw it. The whole game plan changes."
According to the 2021 Official Grand Slam Rule Book, a player can leave the court "for a reasonable time for a toilet break, a change of attire break, or both, but for no other reason," and the rule does not state a time limit.
Following his match against Mannarino on Wednesday, Tsitsipas defended his choice to take bathroom breaks.
"It is important to take it if you have to. 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, and everywhere all over your body. It makes you feel better," he justified.
Fact of the day. It takes Stefanos Tsitipas twice as long to go the bathroom as it takes Jeff Bazos to fly into space. Interesting. 🚽 🚀
— Andy Murray (@andy_murray) August 31, 2021
"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. That's all," the athlete continued, stressing: "If I break a rule, then sure I'm guilty. If I'm staying within the guidelines, what's the issue?"
After a reporter asked another question about his bathroom breaks and Murray's reaction, Tsitsipas recalled his opponent's bathroom break during the 2012 US Open men's final against Novak Djokovic.
"I have a question for you. I don't watch other people's business. But I remember watching it when I was younger. Can you please check when Andy Murray faced Novak Djokovic at the final here, before the fifth set, that break, can you please look it up and let me know next time?" Tsitsipas said as the reporter told him Murray took under three minutes. "Less than three minutes, okay. So three minutes more make a difference?"
As other players and fans continue to question the legitimacy of his now-frequent bathroom trips, Tsitsipas reemphasized his stance.
"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," he said. "They haven't played tennis at a 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."
In another response, Tsitsipas continued, "It's my personal need. Some players take, as we know, much more than 25 seconds between points which is fair. I don't have anything against any player and I never complain about what other players do. Since I was a young kid my parents have taught me not to watch other people's business and concentrate on myself and do my job. I just don't understand why other players go and criticize other players during a match. They put too much emphasis on it."
Reiterating his frustration, Tsitsipas said he thinks he's "done everything the right way" so far.
"I just don't understand that's all. 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, performing," he said.
Next, No. 3 Tsitsipas takes on 18-year-old Carlos Alcaraz Garfia from Spain on Friday.
Stefanos Tsitsipas has become the center of attention at the U.S. Open for his bathroom breaks and took another one Friday that drew boos from fans.
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Photo: German tennis player Steffi Graf playing in the 1988 Wimbledon women's singles tournament. If an athlete claims victory in each Grand Slam, otherwise known as tennis majors - Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, US Open - and also wins gold at the Olympic Games or Paralympic Games, that person achieves a Golden Slam, or Golden Grand Slam.