'Frustration': Stefanos Tsitsipas booed by crowd after cheeky act

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·Sports Reporter
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Stefanos Tsitsipas disappeared for nearly 10 minutes to change his clothes during the Cincinnati Open semi-final, leaving opponent Alexander Zverev fuming to the chair umpire. Pictures: Tennis TV
Stefanos Tsitsipas disappeared for nearly 10 minutes to change his clothes during the Cincinnati Open semi-final, leaving opponent Alexander Zverev fuming to the chair umpire. Pictures: Tennis TV

Stefanos Tsitsipas was greeted with jeers from the Cincinnati Open crowd after disappearing into the changerooms for nearly 10 minutes during his semi-final against Alexander Zverev.

The high-ranked duo played a marathon contest on Sunday, with Zverev emerging victorious in the 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7/4).

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Temperatures were high as the two prepare for the upcoming US Open, where the absence of key veterans Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal has opened the pathway for the next generation to block Novak Djokovic from completing a calendar grand slam.

However Tsitsipas drew the ire of both Zverev, the Cincinnati crowd and the chair umpire after taking his bag and clothes into the changerooms following the first set.

Suspicions have been raised that such a break might be an opportunity for some sneaky coaching via text.

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No sooner had that possibility been mentioned on an international television feed than the shot switched to father-coach Apostolos texting on his phone in the player box.

However the Greek star brushed off any criticism of his actions, insisting he had simply been changing his clothes after getting sweaty throughout the first set.

"Nothing crazy. It's not astrophysics," Tsitsipas said after the match.

"I'm heading towards the locker room to go change my T-shirt. I don't think it would be very nice if I change shorts on the court in front of everybody.

"I'm a person that sweats a bit more than others. I think it's acceptable, it's just how it works for me."

Zverev complained to the chair umpire after several minutes had passed since Tsitsipas left the court.

Tsitsipas re-emerged soon after Zverev's complaints, with some in the crowd booing the world No.3 for holding up the contest for so long.

Zverev irritated by lengthy Tsitsipas delay

However, Tsitsipas said he will not change his ways.

"I'm not going to stop doing it, because it makes me feel better when I step out on the court to begin the new set," he said of leaving the court to change.

Tsitsipas may have been pushing his luck when — after barely 90 minutes of play and one lengthy change already — he tried to leave the court again for the same purpose after winning the second set.

But the expedition was stopped by the chair umpire who said he had used up his quota of break time.

"I somehow managed it (to play while sweat-soaked) but it wasn't nice of him. I will check the rulebook later," Tsitsipas said.

"A player shall be allowed to go to the bathroom in each single set, as far as I know."

Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas' thrilling semi-final at the Cincinnati Open was overshadowed by a time-out controversy involving the latter. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas' thrilling semi-final at the Cincinnati Open was overshadowed by a time-out controversy involving the latter. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

He added: "We are trying to play tennis out there, obviously sweating a lot, giving our best effort and our effort is not really being appreciated.

"I'm very sad to see it be this way."

Zverev took a dim view of the lengthy pause in play, complaining to the chair umpire.

"I'm somebody that likes to win or lose with (the) tennis," he told Tennis Channel after the match. "I never take a medical timeout when I don't need it. I never go to the bathroom when I don't need it.

"Some people use it (the break rule) for their advantage," he added. "The rules are very bendable, I would say.

"I was a little frustrated because it did happen (with Tsitsipas) at the French Open already before the fifth set. It did happen in Acapulco as well, so there was a little frustration but it's all good."

With AFP

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