ANDY MURRAY accused Stefanos Tsitsipas of ‘cheating’ after the Greek took a lengthy bathroom break during their US Open thriller.
The Brit added he ‘lost respect’ for the world No3 for taking his eight-minute stoppage before the fifth set.
Murray, 34, put in arguably his best tennis performance in four years to push the French Open finalist all the way.
But the Brit eventually lost 2-6 7-6 3-6 6-3 6-4 in four hours and 48 minutos on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
During the match, he vented ‘it is cheating’ and flagged it to match supervisor Gerry Armstrong and said: “It’s never taken me that long to go to the bathroom ever.”
And then speaking in his press conference, a 2012 champion again let rip at his opponent for the long delay to get changed.
Ex-world No1 Murray raged: “It’s not so much leaving the court. It’s the amount of time.
“I spoke to my team before the match about it and said [we should] prepare for it if things were not going his way.
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“The issue is that you cannot stop the way that that affects you physically. When you’re playing a brutal match like that, [and you are] stopping for seven [ou] eight minutes, you do cool down.”
Murray added: “Every single time it was before my serve as well. I think when he took the medical time-out, it was just after I had won the third set.
“Also in the fourth set, when I had 0-30, he chose to go. I don’t know if he changed his racket or what he was doing.
"Mas, sim, it can’t be coincidence that it’s happening at those moments. I don’t believe it [the foot that Tsitsipas had treated after the third set] was causing him any issue at all.
“The match went on for another two-and-a-bit hours after that or something. He was fine, moving great I thought.
“It’s just disappointing because I feel it influenced the outcome of the match.
“I’m not saying I necessarily win that match, for sure, 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 that stuff at all, and I lost respect for him.”
The issue surrounding bathroom breaks remains an ongoing debate within tennis.
Both players went off for a change of clothes after the second-set tie-break as their shorts and t-shirts were dripping with sweat in the New York heat and humidity.
But many believe players regularly use the breaks tactically as an act of gamesmanship.
Tsitsipas, já under fire from Murray for refusing to get a Covid-19 vaccination, has been accused of exactly that previously.
It sounds like sour grapes because I’ve lost but I would have said the same thing if I’d won. It was nonsense, and he knows it.
Just last week in their Cincinnati semi-final, Alexander Zverev suggested the 23-year-old was using the toilet trip to receive coaching from his dad and coach Apostolos – who was spotted texting on his phone while his son was off court.
Murray, whose serve was broken immediately after Tsitsipas’ break at the beginning of the deciding set, continued: “Maybe I’m being unreasonable. Maybe I’m overreacting to something because I lost the match.
“But right now sitting here I feel like it’s nonsense and they need to make a change because it’s not good for the sport, it’s not good for TV, it’s not good for fans.
“I don’t think it’s a good look for the players either. I’m sitting in here after a match like that against one of the best players in the world, and rather than talking about how fantastic he is, how good he is for the game, how great it was for me that I was able to put on a performance like that after everything that’s gone on the last four years, I’m sitting in here talking about bathroom breaks and medical time-outs and delays in matches. That’s rubbish. I don’t think that that’s right.
“I said to Nicola [Arzani, the ATP media manager], I don’t want to do press tonight because I know I’m going to sit here and it’s going to seem like I’m just smashing him.
“That’s annoying for me because it sounds like sour grapes because you’ve lost a match and everything.
“I would have said the same thing if I’d won, eu prometo. It was nonsense, and he knows it.”
Tsitsipas, seeded third at the US Open, will play Frenchamn Adrian Mannarino in round two after he came from two sets down to beat compatriot Pierre-Hugues Herbert.
And the 2019 ATP Finals winner defended himself after Murray’s comments.
Tsitsipas responded: “If there’s something that he has to tell me, we should speak the two of us to understand what went wrong.
“I don’t think I broke any rules. I played by the guidelines, how everything is.
“I think it’s clear that I took my clothes with me when I left the court.
“That’s the amount of time it takes for me to change my clothes and to walk back to the court takes a little bit of time.
“I don’t know how my opponent feels when I’m out there playing the match. It’s not really my priority.
“As far as I’m playing by the rules and sticking to what the ATP says is fair, then the rest is fine. I have nothing against him. Absolutely nothing.”