ATP's groundbreaking change after Stefanos Tsitsipas controversy

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Andy Murray (right) was left fuming by Stefanos Tsitsipas' lengthy toilet breaks during their US Open match in 2021. Pic: Getty
Andy Murray (right) was left fuming by Stefanos Tsitsipas' lengthy toilet breaks during their US Open match in 2021. Pic: Getty

The issue of toilet breaks in tennis became one of the most contentious talking points in 2021, with Greek star Stefanos Tsitsipas front and centre of the debate.

Thankfully for tennis fans and many disgruntled players, the ATP is set to introduce rules that make 'call of nature' controversies a thing of the past.

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Tsitsipas sparked uproar during his US Open win over Andy Murray in August after the Brit accused him of "cheating" by seemingly using bathroom breaks to his strategic advantage.

Murray admitted after his dramatic five-set loss to Tsitsipas that he had lost respect for the Greek, who took an eight-minute toilet break ahead of the deciding fifth set of the grand slam match.

Britain's three-time grand slam champion could be heard shouting “he’s cheating” at the lengthy delay, before complaining to match supervisor Gerry Armstrong.

After the match Murray said: “It’s not so much leaving the court, it’s the amount of time. It’s disappointing because I feel it influenced the outcome of the match. 

"I’m not saying I necessarily win that match but it had influence on what was happening after those breaks.

“I rate him a lot. I think he’s a brilliant player. I think he’s great for the game. But I have zero time for stuff like that at all, and I lost respect for him. I think it’s nonsense, and it he knows it as well.”

Tsitsipas also had a toilet break at the end of the second set and a medical timeout for treatment on his foot - having just lost the third set.

Following the final eight-minute delay, Murray remonstrated loudly saying: “It’s never taken me that long to go to the bathroom ever.”

Tsitsipas faced widespread condemnation over the drama but correctly insisted that he didn't break any rules.

The governing body of men's tennis, the ATP, are now set to introduce new rules so lengthy toilet break dramas are a thing of the past.

Stefanos Tsitisipas' toilet breaks became one of the biggest controversies in 2021. Pic: Getty
Stefanos Tsitisipas' toilet breaks became one of the biggest controversies in 2021. Pic: Getty

ATP to cut toilet breaks and time limits

Although toilet breaks will be limited to three minutes, players will also be allowed two minutes to change their clothing.

The player's one toilet break per match will also only be permitted at the end of a set. 

Should a player spend too long in the bathroom, they will be liable for time violations.

The ATP is also looking at new rules for medical timeouts, under which players would only be allowed one three-minute time out per match to be taken during a changeover or a set break.

There is no indication as to whether or not the WTA will take up the same guidelines on bathroom breaks, however, American star Sloane Stephens admitted earlier in the year that there is "still a lot" of gamesmanship in women's tennis.

"I think there definitely needs to be a rule or changes," she said. 

"Six, eight minutes is a long time to leave a match. That changes the whole momentum of a match.

"What are you changing? When you get into six, seven, eight, nine minutes, OK, what are you doing in there? Do you need help? I can come help you. 

"That's more where the issues are because it just becomes pure gamesmanship."

with agencies

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