NEW YORK (Reuters) – Former U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens said on Wednesday players who took extended bathroom breaks were guilty of “gamesmanship” after Stefanos Tsitsipas came under fire once again for leaving the court late on in a match.
Andy Murray was furious with Tsitsipas on Monday after he took a break that ran close to eight minutes during their five-set first-round clash, with the Briton saying the disruption had an impact on the match.
In his second round tie with Adrian Mannarino on Wednesday, the Greek left for the locker room for a bathroom break of more than seven minutes after losing the third set, and was jeered by the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd on his return.
Stephens, who sits on the WTA players council, said it was gamesmanship and had to stop.
“They make a lot of rule changes for smaller things, like, they took one minute off the warmup,” said Stephens, who won the U.S. Open title in 2017. “I think there definitely needs to be a rule or changes.
“If someone goes to the bathroom for nine minutes, no one says anything.
“I think now that there is a lot of talk about it, people come into press, people tweet about it, maybe it will get a little bit more attention, that gamesmanship will kind of maybe turn and change a little bit.”
Tsitsipas, 23, has repeatedly said he is not breaking any rules as there are no time limits on bathroom breaks.
In a tweet a day after his defeat, Murray said Tsitsipas took longer on bathroom breaks than it took billionaire Jeff Bezos to reach outer space.
The 28-year-old Stephens found Murray’s tweet “really funny” and said a lengthy break could change the momentum of a match.
“If you’re changing your clothes, what are you changing? What are you doing in there?” she asked.
“If you ever changed out of a wet sports bra … But that is maybe like a five-minute. When you get into six, seven, eight, nine minutes, okay, what are you doing in there? Do you need help?”
(Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York and Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Peter Rutherford)