NEW YORK (AFP) - Third-ranked Stefanos Tsitsipas has been reduced to a US Open punchline for extended disruptive toilet breaks during matches, with victims Alexander Zverev and Andy Murray ripping him on Tuesday (Aug 31).
German fourth seed Zverev, who accused Tsitsipas of getting improper coaching during his toilet break in a match at Cincinnati, went out of his way to hurl a zinger at the Greek star after a first-round triumph.
After saying top-ranked Novak Djokovic is the favourite, he warned others are playing well, saying, "Daniil is in very good form. Stefanos can play well - if he doesn't go to the moon and back for a toilet break, that will also help. I had to, I'm sorry."
Britain's Murray complained about an extended Tsitsipas toilet break in a loss to him on Monday, the three-time Grand Slam-winner noting, "It has never once taken me that long to go to the toilet, ever."
Murray posted a tweet on Tuesday comparing Tsitsipas' seven-minute hiatus with the brief space flight of billionaire Jeff Bezos.
"Fact of the day. It takes Stefanos Tsitipas twice as long to go the bathroom as it takes Jeff Bazos to fly into space. Interesting," Murray tweeted.
Australian Nick Kyrgios brought up bathroom breaks in his loss to Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut, wondering why he incurred a time violation over retrieving a towel when there were "20-minute bathroom breaks" by other players.
Tsitsipas defended his breaks, saying he follows ATP rules on bathroom trips.
"I'm playing by the rules and sticking to what the ATP says is fair," said Tsitsipas. "I took my clothes with me when I left the court. That's the amount of time it takes for me to change my clothes and to walk back."
Zverev said that while rules permit such pauses, it's seldom taken to such extremes.
"You are allowed to do that," he said. "But it's like an unwritten rule between players."
Zverev wants an end to the antics, which often stop a rival's momentum.
"It's happening every match. It's not normal. Against me in Cincinnati was ridiculous and now here again," Zverev said.
"He's one of the best in the world at what he does. I do not believe he needs to do that... These kind of things happen at junior events... but not when you're top three in the world."
'Very magical place'
And Zverev still wonders about coaching in his match.
"He's gone for 10-plus minutes. His dad is texting on the phone. He comes out, and all of a sudden his tactic completely changed," Zverev said.
"Either it's a very magical place he goes to, or there is communication there."
Murray said he has "lost respect" for Tsitsipas and Zverev agrees.
"I do believe, and Andy said it as well, there is some level of respect that everybody needs to have between players," Zverev said.
"He might just go to the toilet. That's also possible. But it just happens too often, I would say."
American Reilly Opelka said he understands the need for long breaks, which often include changing from sweaty clothes.
"It's ridiculous," Opelka said.
"I understand it's getting press because tennis is lame and tennis media sucks and they're terrible.
"We're hydrating a lot. We have to use the bathroom. To change my socks, shoes, my inserts in my shoes, shorts, shirt, everything, the whole nine yards, hat, it takes five, six minutes. Then by the time I walk to and from the court.
"I don't know Tsitsipas, I don't know his situation. I doubt he's getting coached. Today, I couldn't even take my bag in to change. I'm like, 'Guys, my clothes and shoes are in here. You can come stand in here with me if you want.' I strictly go to change because it's hot and it's humid."