Tsitsipas can only learn from shock third-round US Open exit

·3-min read
Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas takes a bathroom break after the third set in his loss to Spanish teen Carlos Alcaraz on Friday at the US Open (AFP/TIMOTHY A. CLARY)

Stefanos Tsitsipas can take as long as he likes in the bathroom now with no complaints after his shock US Open loss to a foe in the flush of youth.

The Greek third seed was stunned by 18-year-old Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (7/2), 0-6, 7-6 (7/5) in a third-round match at Arthur Ashe Stadium, Tsitsipas having never reached the last 16 at the US Open.

"It was supposed to be my match," said Tsitsipas. "Today was a match that I shouldn't have lost. I can only learn from it."

Tsitsipas has been ridiculed by rivals Alexander Zverev and Andy Murray for taking extended bathroom breaks at key moments in matches, moves they see as gamesmanship.

Zverev accused him of getting coaching aid during such a break in Cincinnati two weeks ago.

"All these accusations have been completely false," Tsitsipas said. "The one in my match in Cincinnati, which was the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard in my life, I don't know what to say. That really shows the level of the person that said it."

Three-time Grand Slam champion Murray said billionaire Jeff Bezos flew into space faster than Tsitsipas took a toilet break. Zverev said he seemed to be going to a bathroom on the moon.

So it wasn't a shock when the crowd booed Tsitsipas as he walked off after dropping the third set, even though his break lasted a more normal length, and clearly had Alcaraz as its darling the entire way.

"I'm not pretending that everyone loves me. My intentions are not to be loved by everyone," Tsitsipas said.

"I feel like people, they don't understand. They are here for the show. They want to watch tennis. They're very impatient, especially the new generation. They just want to get it done quick.

"For me, the only thing I did is change from wet clothes to dry clothes. Apparently it's a huge issue."

He tried to shrug off the boos when he was called for a coaching violation and a time violation as well as for his toilet exit.

"The crowd here, I guess these two things were the most intense that took place here," he said. "I was surprised in a way. I don't really let myself take me down because I'm out there playing my game. Fan support is important, but I just need to go out there and perform. It doesn't matter at that point.

- No time limit in rule -

Tsitsipas has defended himself by pointing out there is no time limit in the bathroom and changing clothes break.

"I know all of these things have been against me for no reason," he said. "I took my toilet break as a normal athlete. Might have taken a bit longer than other athletes.

"But if there is a rule that says there's a specific amount of time that you are allowed to take, then I would probably try and follow that protocol."

Tsitsipas complained of players taking too long between serves.

"That has been an issue for me in the past playing against these players, getting cold, not feeling my game," he said.

"In one of my matches here I had to wait very long time between first and second serve. I didn't complain.

"Then you have these players that everyone knows they're taking so much time but no one says anything.

"I don't know why everyone suddenly is against me, especially when other players don't follow rules and don't stick within 25 seconds between play."

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