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After Stefanos Tsitsipas controversy, ATP looks to change toilet break rules

Stefanos Tsitsipas was at the center of toilet break controversy at the 2021 US Open
Stefanos Tsitsipas was at the center of toilet break controversy at the 2021 US Open
FEATURED COLUMNIST

After Stefanos Tsitsipas caused a storm at the US Open with his long and ill-timed bathroom breaks in the middle of matches, the ATP has reportedly decided to bring about a change in the rules.

A source from the governing body of men's tennis told Reuters they would review the rules for toilet breaks as well as on-court medical timeouts before next season gets underway.

"There will be a change to the rules for bathroom breaks and on-court medical timeouts as well," the source told Reuters. "I hope that before the next season begins in January, we will have a stricter rule when it comes to toilet breaks and medical timeouts."

Three-time Major winner Andy Murray accused Tsitsipas of gamesmanship after the Greek took a near eight-minute bathroom break during their first-round clash at Flushing Meadows. The former World No. 1 claimed such long breaks affected the opponents' rhythm and could have an impact on the outcome of the match.

Tsitsipas, in his defense, pointed out that he had broken no rules since there was no time limit on toilet breaks.

Olympic champion Alexander Zverev then added fuel to the fire by insinuating that Adrian Mannarino's back got stiff after Tsitsipas took an extended break at the conclusion of the third set during his second-round clash against the Frenchman. Mannarino did not win a single game after the match resumed.

It was not the first time that Zverev had commented on Tsitsipas' lengthy trips to the toilet during a match. Just two weeks earlier at the Cincinnati Masters, the German had accused the Greek of receiving coaching from his father over the phone during a long toilet break in their semifinal encounter, which had ignited the controversy.

Former US Open champion Sloane Stephens also joined a chorus of players criticizing the contentious toilet break rule. She admitted that the rules are frequently abused in the women's game and called for a change. Stephens even went on to suggest a time cap to prevent a recurrence of the issue.

With the debate showing no signs of abating, the ATP has decided they seriously need to consider a change of rules.

"I think it's getting to the point where it's definitely becoming a big issue," the source further told Reuters. "It's been an issue for a long time, but we are taking quite a serious approach now to try and change it."

Stefanos Tsitsipas receives support from Novak Djokovic

(L-R): Novak Djokovic & Daniil Medvedev with their trophies at the 2021 US Open
(L-R): Novak Djokovic & Daniil Medvedev with their trophies at the 2021 US Open

Amidst the allegations of gamesmanship, Stefanos Tsitsipas had one prominent player speaking out in his favor. World No. 1 Novak Djokovic pointed out that the toilet break rule wasn't clear and claimed that Tsitsipas was being unfairly targeted.

"I've got to stand for Stefanos Tsitsipas," Djokovic said. "I don't think he's doing anything wrong. I support him.
"The rule is not clear," he added. "Of course, you can argue it's all relative, everyone sees it differently. "This was a hot topic last couple of weeks. I think he didn't deserve that many attacks that he was getting in the media from everyone."

Tsitsipas, who crashed out of the US Open following a third-round defeat by Carlos Alcaraz, is in the field for the Masters 1000 event in Indian Wells next month.


Edited by Arvind Sriram
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