Seven-time Grand Slam winner Mats Wilander has defended Stefanos Tsitsipas after he came under fire from Andy Murray during their US Open first round clash on Monday.
The Greek third seed rallied to defeat the 34-year-old Murray 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.”
The morning after the match, Murray was still perturbed as he sarcastically tweeted: “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”.
Speaking on Eurosport, Wilander came to the defence of Tsitsipas.
“Tsitispas does sweat and sweat, so he does need to go and change his shorts, underwear, shirt – I guess some people can do that in seven minutes, some people take a little longer,” Wilander said.
“I don’t feel Andy showed inexperience because he has played for so long, but he got so irritated, he wasn’t moving around, maybe he could have hit a few serves.
“Maybe he was too much in the moment somehow and it irritated him – you just can’t let that happen.
“At the same time, all the top players always something that stretches the rules, not intentionally, but they go about their business, they are in the moment.
“(Rafael) Nadal sometimes takes too long, (Novak) Djokovic takes a few injury time outs, [John] McEnroe was screaming, (Jimmy) Connors did his thing – it’s what champions do.
“Tsitsipas was in the moment. Murray may have been too involved in the moment. I’m not too sure it would have made a difference in the end.”
Wilander, 57, won three Australian Open titles (1983, 1984, 1988), three French Opens (1982, 1985, 1988) and one US Open (1988) during his playing days.
His best result at Wimbledon was making the quarter-finals on three occasions – in 1987, 1988 and 1989.
Grass may not have been Wilander’s favorite surface, but he did win two of his Australian Open titles (1983 and 1984) when the event was still played on grass at Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club.
Picture: Stefanos Tsitsipas – ATP Tour/Twitter