Wednesday at the U.S. Open was a chaotic one, as record-breaking rains in New York City disrupted nighttime play (even in the roofed Louis Armstrong Stadium) and stranded fans who couldn’t get home with the streets flooded and the subways filled with water. It was weird and scary, to say the least. But there was still tennis played—at least when Stefanos Tsitsipas was not locking himself in the bathroom.
Earlier in the night, the world No. 3 Tsitsipas was apparently troubled by Nos. 1 and 2 for the second straight round—not Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev, but his signature and controversial long toilet breaks, which Tsitsipas once again made use of right after the only set he lost against Adrian Mannarino.
You may remember, when this happened in the first round, that we at Defector were deeply concerned about the digestive health of Tsitsipas as he took multiple breaks during his win over Andy Murray. One of those breaks, most notably, was a seven-minute jaunt to the bathroom that had everybody wondering what Tsitsipas had eaten earlier in the day.
“It’s never once taken me that long to go to the toilet, ever,” Murray said as he argued about the length of the delay.
At Cincinnati, too, before the U.S. Open, Tsitsipas tried to push the envelope as much as possible when it came to the number of breaks he was allowed to take, arguing that he wasn’t doing anything against the rules. But against Mannarino, his desire to get off the court didn’t sit well with the fans, who booed him as he returned after eight minutes away for the start of the fourth and final set of the match.
Asked about the boos, Tsitsipas argued that they couldn’t appreciate the necessity of his break.
“I haven’t done anything wrong, so I don’t understand,” he said. “The people love the sport; they come to watch tennis. I have nothing against them. I love the fans. But some people don’t understand. That’s all. They don’t understand. They haven’t played tennis at high level to understand how much effort and how much difficult it is to do what we are doing. Sometimes we need a short break to do what we have to do.”
He then tried to score a point in his defense by bringing up an old Andy Murray match, but only served to underline just how incredibly long his eight-minute trips really are.
Outside of maybe some more red meat and grain in his diet, it’s unclear what can be done in the short-term to stop Tsitsipas from pissing everybody off with his breaks. According to the Grand Slam rule book, players are entitled to two breaks in a five-set match, and those breaks are allowed to go for “a reasonable time.” That annoyingly vague language gives Tsitsipas all the space he needs to do his business, while his opponents are left with no options except arguing the definition of “reasonable” or shaking their fists at the writers of the book.
“He’s not doing anything wrong,” Mannarino conceded after the match. “I think the rule is wrong.”