It wasn’t his opponent’s dizzying foot speed or the speed of his serve that Andy Murray thought about a day after his match. The stat that stuck with Murray, the 2012 US Open champion, was how long it took his opponent, Stefanos Tsitsipas, during his off-court breaks.
“Fact of the day. Stefanos Tsitipas takes twice as long to go to the toilet as Jeff Bazos does to fly into space. Interesting,” Murray posted on Twitter on Tuesday morning, misspelling both his opponent’s and the Amazon billionaire’s name, but adding toilet and rocket ship emojis for clarity.
On Monday, third-seeded Tsitsipas had defeated Murray 2-6, 7-6(7), 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in a game that turned early in the fifth set after an off-court break from Tsitsi pass. Although the rules allow two breaks off the field during best-of-five sets matches, Murray was furious to see Tsitsipas leave the field after the fourth set, which Tsitsipas had won.
“Why are they allowed to do this?” Murray asked annoyed chair umpire Nico Helwerth. “Why?”
Murray, 34, sat on his bench at Arthur Ashe Stadium, changed his shirt, draped an ice towel over his neck and moisturized, looking repeatedly at the court entrance. After sitting for a few minutes and bouncing his legs, Murray got up and wandered behind the baseline, bounced a ball and gently slammed it into the video wall behind the field.
“What is your opinion about this?” Murray asked Helwerth. ‘You are the referee of the match. Give me an opinion: do you like it?” Murray then asked Grand Slam supervisor Gerry Armstrong, “Do you think this is okay, what’s happening?”
When Tsitsipas finally came back more than seven minutes after the last point was played, he went to his couch and then went to a cool box to get a bottle of water. He then sat down on his couch and Murray shouted, “Get up! What’s the matter, get up!”
As the fans began to captivate, Murray pumped his arms to encourage them.
Murray, still steaming, dropped his serve in the next game, and Tsitsipas held onto that advantage for the rest of the set. Murray said he was prepared for Tsitsipas to take long breaks if the match didn’t go well, for which he believed Tsitsipas had a reputation.
“It’s just disappointing because I think it affected the outcome of the game,” Murray said. “I’m not saying I necessarily win that match, but it did affect what happened after those breaks. I judge him a lot. I think he is a brilliant player. I think he’s great for the game. But I don’t have time for that sort of thing at all, and I lost respect for him.”
Tsitsipas, 23, said of Murray’s comments that he hoped to speak to him directly.
“If he has to tell me something, we have to talk, the two of us, to understand what went wrong,” Tsitsipas said. “I don’t think I broke any rules. I played by the guidelines, how everything is.
“I don’t know how my opponent feels when I play the match; it’s not really my priority,” Tsitsipas added. “As far as I play by the rules and what the ATP says is fair, the rest is fine.”
Tsitsipas said his time off in court was simply “the amount of time I need to change clothes and walk back to court”.
Recognizing that players are often accused of abusing toilet break or medical timeout rules to alter the momentum of the match, Murray said he and other players’ council members had discussed rule changes that could make games more difficult to play. .
“If everyone thinks that’s totally cool and there’s no problem with it, then maybe I’m the one being unreasonable,” Murray said. “But I think it’s nonsense. And he knows that too.”
In a statement, the United States Tennis Association said it “views game pace as a major issue in our sport,” citing the past implementation of visible serving bells and warm-up bells in recent years. “We must continue to review and investigate possible changes to the rules, whether it be a bathroom break/clothing change or other areas, that could positively impact the pace of play for our fans and the guarantee the fairness and integrity of the game,” the spokesperson said. statement said.
While tennis players generally don’t like to get into each other’s controversies, several couldn’t resist.
“Andy is right!” Milos Raonic, a Canadian missing the US Open with a right leg injury, posted on Twitter on Monday evening.
When asked on Tuesday after his first round victory if he felt Novak Djokovic was the favorite to win the US Open, Alexander Zverev managed to fit his answer into a dig at Tsitsipas.
“I think Stefanos can play well if he doesn’t go to the moon and back for a toilet break, that will help too,” Zverev said with a grin.
Zverev had previously made his own accusations against Tsitsipas during their semifinal match at the Western & Southern Open in August, accusing him of using a mobile phone off the pitch to illegally communicate tactics with his coach and father, Apostolos.
Zverev repeated his suspicions on Tuesday. “He’s been gone for more than 10 minutes; his father is texting on the phone,” Zverev said. “He comes out and suddenly his tactics have completely changed. It’s not just me, but everyone saw it. The whole game plan is changing. I’m like, either it’s a really magical place where he goes, or there’s communication there.
“But I don’t want to despise him either,” Zverev added. “He’s a great player.”
Tsitsipas denied cheating on Monday.
“I’ve never done that in my career; I don’t know what kind of imagination it takes to get to that point,” Tsitsipas said. “That’s not something I want to take seriously because it’s absolutely ridiculous to think about that.”
Tsitsipas was supported by American Reilly Opelka, who also took a long break during his first round win.
“We hydrate a lot; we have to use the bathroom,” said Opelka. “To change — my socks, shoes, my inserts in my shoes, shorts, shirt, everything, the whole nine yards, hat — takes five, six minutes.
“If people don’t understand that, then clearly they’ve never spent a day in the life of a professional athlete or come close to it,” Opelka said.
Murray, who has spent most of his days in the life of a professional athlete, ended his press conference by saying it was a shame that a five-hour game between two top players was overshadowed by stable tactics.
“I’m sitting here after such a game against one of the best players in the world, and instead of talking about how fantastic he is, how good he is for the game, how great it was for me to be able to To put on a performance like that after everything that’s happened over the past four years, I’m sitting here talking about bathroom breaks and medical time-outs and delays in competitions,” Murray said. “That’s nonsense. I don’t think that’s right.”