Stefanos Tsitsipas' long and ill-timed bathroom breaks were in focus once again during his US Open first-rounder against former champion Andy Murray. After the match Murray lambasted Tsitsipas for disrupting the opponents' physical rhythm, claiming he had lost respect for the Greek.
The duo engaged in a five-set tussle on the opening day at Flushing Meadows, which ended with a 2-6, 7-6(7), 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 win for Tsitsipas. It was an intense encounter that swung from one way to another, and the emotions naturally ran high for both players.
Tsitsipas, who has taken questionable bathroom breaks in the past too, opted for one at a crucial stage of Monday's match - just before the start of the fifth set. Murray got broken immediately after they resumed playing, which turned out to be the decisive break of the contest.
Some have even alleged Tsitsipas receives illegal coaching via text messages during these breaks. While Murray didn't accuse him of that, he did express his anger at the length and timing of the 23-year-old's breaks.
"It's not so much leaving the court. It's the amount of time," said Murray after the match. "I spoke to my team before the match about it and said to expect that, prepare for it if things were not going his way. So I was trying to do that."
According to Murray, taking a long break in the middle of an intense match makes your body cool down, which in turn makes it difficult to regain your groove immediately after the resumption of play.
"But the issue is that you cannot stop the way that that affects you physically," the Scot continued. "When you're playing a brutal match like that, you know, stopping for seven, eight minutes, you do cool down. 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."
Tsitsipas also took a medical timeout at the end of the third set (which he lost), and Murray claimed the timing of that break was suspect too.
"Every single time it was either - well, before my serve as well," the 34-year-old said. "I think when he took the medical timeout, it was just after I had won the third set. Also in the fourth set when I had love-30, he chose to go -- I don't know if he changed his racquet or what we was doing."
"But, yeah, it can't be coincidence that it's happening at those moments," he added. "I don't believe it was causing him any issue at all. The match went on for another two and a bit hours after that or something. He was fine, moving great I thought."
Andy Murray gave Stefanos Tsitsipas a commendable fight on Monday; he went toe-to-toe with him throughout but succumbed after nearly five hours of play. The Scot claimed that he was upset about the breaks because he felt they played a role in how the result turned out.
Murray ended his answer by claiming that while Tsitsipas is "great for the game", his bathroom break antics aren't worthy of respect.
"It's just disappointing because I feel it influenced the outcome of the match," Murray said. "I'm not saying I necessarily win that match, for sure, but it had influence on what was happening after those breaks. I rate him a lot. I think he's a brilliant player. I think he's great for the game. But I have zero time for that stuff at all, and I lost respect for him."
"Not accusing Stefanos Tsitsipas of illegal coaching" - Andy Murray
Stefanos Tsitsipas had faced Alexander Zverev in the semifinals at Cincinnati last week, where the German had also complained about Tsitsipas' bathroom breaks.
Zverev had even accused the Greek of receiving illegal coaching on his phone during the breaks. And what made matters worse was that Tsitsipas' father-coach Apostolos was seen texting at the same time Zverev was complaining to the umpire.
While Murray made no such allegations, he repeatedly said that the long breaks affected him.
"I would have no idea if that's happening," Murray said about the possibility of illegal coaching. "But, yeah, I'm not accusing him of that. He knows. The other players know. The fact that I was talking to my team about it before the match, we knew it was coming."
"You could argue that I shouldn't let that affect me," the Scot added. "But genuinely it is difficult, like, when you're playing such a brutal match in those conditions to have those breaks. Physically you can't stop that from affecting you. Mentally, yes, but physically you can't."
Stefanos Tsitsipas, on his part, has always maintained that the breaks are normal and that there's nothing sinister going on behind the scenes.