Tennis set for major changes after nasty controversy at US Open

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·Sports Editor
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Leylah Fernandez and Emma Raducanu, pictured here in the US Open final.
Leylah Fernandez wasn't happy about Emma Raducanu's medical timeout in the US Open final. Image: Getty

Tennis officials have flagged major changes to rules around toilet breaks and medical timeouts after controversy erupted at the US Open.

Issues around gamesmanship and the spirit of the game have plagued tennis for years, with players often accused of taking breaks to upset their opponent's rhythm.

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The issue was plunged back into the spotlight at the US Open when Stefanos Tsitsipas was criticised for the length of his toilet breaks.

The Greek star was loudly booed by the crowd after a long trip off the court against Adrian Mannarino, which came after he was savaged by Andy Murray for the same issue in the first round.

The Grand Slam rule book says players should take a "reasonable" amount of time, but does not provide an exact number of minutes that would be acceptable.

"If I break a rule, sure, I'm guilty. I agree; I'm not doing something right," Tsitsipas said.

"If I'm staying within the guidelines, then what's the issue?"

Leylah Fernandez was also left fuming during the women's final when Emma Raducanu took a medical timeout late in the second set when Fernandez was mounting a comeback.

Fernandez later admitted she didn't realise Raducanu was bleeding from her knee and needed medical attention, but many believe the issue still needs addressing.

An ATP source reportedly told Reuters on Thursday: "There will be a change to the rules for bathroom breaks and on-court medical timeouts as well.

"I hope that before the next season begins in January, we will have a stricter rule when it comes to toilet breaks and medical timeouts."

Andy Murray and Stefanos Tsitsipas, pictured here after their first-round clash at the US Open.
Andy Murray was criticised by Stefanos Tsitsipas after their first-round clash at the US Open. (Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)

Stefanos Tsitsipas defends long toilet breaks

In the second round in New York, Tsitsipas took a toilet break that created an eight-minute delay between the end of the third set and start of the fourth.

His return was greeted by fans voicing their displeasure - certainly aware that three-time major champion Murray decried what he called "nonsense" by the 23-year-old.

Murray said he "lost respect" for Tsitsipas following their clash in the first round, but Tsitsipas said he feels refreshed after he heads off the court to change his clothing.

"I haven't done anything wrong, so I don't understand," the third seed said of the fans booing.

"The people love the sport; they come to watch tennis. I have nothing against them. I love the fans. 

"But some people don't understand. That's all. They don't understand. 

"They haven't played tennis at high level to understand how much effort and how much difficult it is to do what we are doing.

"Sometimes we need a short break to do what we have to do."

American star Sloane Stephens said 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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