Major shake-up to solve tennis' biggest problem

1 month ago 15
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Tennis is set to undergo a shake up over exorbitantly long toilets breaks or medical timeouts at critical moments with the ATP Tour planning to impose stricter rules.

The issue has long plagued tennis and most recently made headlines at the U.S. Open where Stefanos Tsitsipas was accused of gamesmanship by Andy Murray for taking a lengthy trip to the bathroom at a critical point in their first-round match.

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The Greek world number three, went on to win the match but denied the accusations and said he had broken no rules as there were no time limits on bathroom breaks.

"There will be a change to the rules for bathroom breaks and on-court medical timeouts as well," an ATP source told Reuters.

Stefanos Tsitsipas made Andy Murray mad. (Getty)

"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."

Tsitsipas' break took close to eight minutes, with Murray furious, saying the interruption had an impact on the outcome of the match.

In his next match, Tsitsipas left the court for more than seven minutes after losing the third set, and was booed by the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd on his return.

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

Alexander Zverev, who objected to Tsitsipas leaving the court during their Cincinnati semi-final last month, said the Greek's behaviour at Flushing Meadows was "unacceptable".

Andy Murray argues with supervisor Gerry Armstrong during his match against Stefanos Tsitsipas. (Getty)

However, Tsitsipas found support from world number one Novak Djokovic.

"I've got to stand for Stefanos Tsitsipas," Djokovic said at the U.S. Open. "I don't think he's doing anything wrong. I support him.

"The rule is not clear. 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 much attacks that he was getting in the media from everyone."

Former U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, who sits on the WTA players council, said players who took extended bathroom breaks were guilty of gamesmanship and called for governing bodies to change rules.

An ATP spokesperson said during the tournament that a review of rules around toilet breaks, as well as medical time outs, had been an area of focus and remained a work in progress.

The WTA said that it was "always open to conversation and evolving rules if changes are necessary".

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