Stefanos Tsitsipas and his long toilet breaks continue to be a source of great discussion, debate and memes during the ongoing 2021 US Open.
The 23-year-old's seven-minute bathroom break at a crucial juncture of his match against Andy Murray caused major controversy earlier in the week. Murray complained about it at length during the match and even at his post-match press conference, claiming that such a break was harmful to opponents.
In his match against Adrian Mannarino, Tsitsipas took a long toilet break once again, after the end of the third set (which he lost). When he returned to the court after seven minutes he was roundly booed by the crowd, but the Greek managed to regain his focus and take the match in four sets.
A couple of other players, including Alexander Zverev, have also complained about Stefanos Tsitsipas' toilet breaks recently. Tsitsipas, however, doesn't think he is doing anything wrong. During his press conference after beating Mannarino, the 23-year-old reiterated that the toilet breaks are "important" for him as he needs to change his sweaty clothes from time to time.
"It is important," Tsitsipas said. "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."
Tsitsipas went on to add that he tries to be as quick as possible during the breaks, and that it's not a big deal if he takes a little more time than usual on occasion.
"For me it is important to take that break. For someone else probably not. And everyone has his own time," he explained. "I try and be as quick as I can. Sometimes I just need a bit more time. That's all."
Stefanos Tsitsipas was also asked about the booing from the crowd, in response to which he claimed the fans didn't know what it takes to play tennis at the highest level.
"I haven't done anything wrong, so I don't understand," Tsitsipas said. "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 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. "Sometimes we need a short break to do what we have to do."
Stefanos Tsitsipas also mentioned how different players have different needs, and that some of them use other things to their advantage - like the 25-second rule between serves.
"It's just my personal needs," Tsitsipas said. "Some people have other needs. Some players take, as we know, much more than 25 seconds between points, which is fair. Please tell me it's fair. It has happened. That is true."
"I just don't understand when some players go and criticize other players" - Stefanos Tsitsipas on Andy Murray's comments
Andy Murray, meanwhile, has continued to make sly remarks on Twitter after his 6-2, 6-7(2), 6-3, 3-6, 4-6 loss to Tsitsipas. On Tuesday he compared the duration of Tsitsipas' breaks to the time it takes Jeff Bezos to go into space, and early on Thursday he posed a cryptic question about whether anything "interesting" had happened the previous night.
The Scot was making a clear reference to Stefanos Tsitsipas' toilet break in his match against Adrian Mannarino.
In his presser on Monday, Murray had pointed out that during long breaks in the middle of a match the body cools down. According to the Scot, that makes it difficult to immediately start playing at a high level when the action resumes.
"When you're playing a brutal match like that, you know, stopping for seven, eight minutes, you do cool down," Murray had said. "You can prepare for it mentally as much as you like, but it's the fact that it does affect you physically when you take a break that long, well, multiple times during the match."
While Tsitsipas did not directly address Murray's point during his presser on Thursday, he did express hope that he can discuss the matter privately with the former World No. 1.
"I said that we should both discuss it, the two of us, because I followed the rules," Tsitsipas said. "I didn't break anything, any rules. I think there is rule for that which really doesn't specify the time that you have to spend in the bathroom."
Stefanos Tsitsipas further claimed he never complains about what other players do, and that he feels he should receive the same kind of treatment when he takes a few liberties. According to the Greek, the toilet breaks don't affect the result of any match, so he doesn't understand why opponents put "too much emphasis" on them.
"I don't have anything against any player, and I never complain of what other players do," Tsitsipas said. "Since a young kid, 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," he added. "The game is the game. It's not going to change much even if..."
Interestingly, Stefanos Tsitsipas also brought up an incident from the 2012 US Open final, when Andy Murray had self-admittedly taken a toilet break to regroup. But as the reporter pointed out to Tsitsipas in response, Murray's break back then was shorter than three minutes - unlike the Greek's considerably longer ones.
Here's how the exchange went:
Stefanos Tsitsipas: "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?
Reporter: "I did. He took less than three minutes."
Stefanos Tsitsipas: "Less than three minutes, okay."
Reporter: "I looked it up."
Stefanos Tsitsipas: "Okay. So three minutes more make a difference?"
Reporter: "He thought so. It's a question of clearly you're doing something that is upsetting your peers."
Stefanos Tsitsipas: "Okay."
The video of the exchange can be seen below: