Greek tennis star Maria Sakkari has defended her compatriot Stefanos Tsitsipas after he came under fire from Andy Murray during their US Open first round clash on Monday.
Tsitsipas, the tournament’s third seed, rallied to defeat the veteran Scot 2-6, 7-6 (9/7), 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 after four hours and 39 minutes.
But the match was shrouded in controversy with Murray taking exception to Tsitsipas taking two lengthy bathroom breaks.
“It’s not so much leaving the court. It’s the amount of time,” Murray lamented in his post-match press conference. “I spoke to my team before the match about it and said to expect that, prepare for it if things were not going his way.
“You cannot stop the way that affects you physically. When you’re playing a brutal match like that, stopping for seven, eight minutes, you do cool down. You can prepare for it mentally as much as you like, but it’s the fact that it does affect you physically when you take a break that long, well, multiple times during the match.
“Every single time it was before my serve as well. When he took the medical timeout (for his left leg), it was just after I had won the third set.”
Sakkari, who is the 17th seed in the women’s singles, defended Tsitsipas by saying he has an “intense” sweating issue”.
“I know Stefanos very well and I know that he sweats a lot. I played with him in Tokyo and he was sweating a lot. I know he needs to go change and that’s why he goes to the toilet,” Sakkari said, as quoted by the Greek City Times.
“It is not possible to change his shorts and underwear on the court. It may take him longer than other players, but I do not think he deliberately goes to the locker room and sits there doing nothing just to irritate his opponent or cut the pace. It takes him a lot of time because he has to change a lot of things … I don’t think he does it on purpose.”
Tsitsipas, meanwhile, didn’t let Murray’s rant get to him as he took another toilet break lasting nearly eight minutes before the fourth set on Wednesday before beating France’s Adrian Mannarino 6-3, 6-4, 6-7 (4/7), 6-0 in the second round.
“That break on the third set helped me refresh myself, as I like to do,” Tsitsipas said in his post-match press conference. “It’s good for me to be less sweaty and feel fresh, start a new set with a fresh mindset, recalibrate myself.
“I didn’t break any rules,” Tsitsipas added “There is rule for that which really doesn’t specify the time you have to spend in the bathroom. It’s important to take it if you have to.
“For me it’s important to take that break. For someone else probably not. And everyone has his own time. I try and be as quick as I can. Sometimes I just need a bit more time. That’s all.”
Picture: Stefanos Tsitsipas – ATP Tour/Twitter