Norwegian tennis star Casper Ruud has been fined for failing to use the toilet during an official bathroom break midway through his 6-7(4) 7-6(4) 6-4 Montreal Masters win over Roberto Bautista Agut.
The world No. 7 was off the court for 11 minutes in order to change his clothes, but failed to actually use the fixtures. Upon his return, he was confronted by umpire Fergus Murphy. Murphy explained that Ruud was in violation of the rules.
Not only had Ruud failed to use the toilet, he also exceeded the allotted five minutes by more than double.
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What followed was a lively discussion between Ruud and umpire Murphy.
"You have to go to the bathroom as well. That's the rule," explained the umpire.
Ruud responded, asking whether he was obliged to strip off in front of the crowd.
Murphy replied, explaining that "the rule is covered by the bathroom break rule. You have to go to the bathroom, that’s your business. You can change your clothes but you have to go to the bathroom when you say you're going to the bathroom. When you don't go I have to give you a warning for not going, that's why I'm explaining it."
Ruud explained that he had told the umpire he was only going to change his clothes. Murphy confirmed that he had heard that but insisted that the Norwegian was obliged to use the toilet, before officially giving Ruud an official unsportsmanlike conduct warning.
Unsportsmanlike conduct warnings come with an automatic fine, but the amount (which does not exceed $20,000) is determined on a case by case basis.
Ruud asked the umpire how much he would be fined, "So what is it, like a $3000 fine or something?”
To which, the umpire replied "I have no idea about that.”
Ruud's incident is not the first time in recent years that bathroom antics have caused drama in tennis.
It has long been viewed as a tactic taken by players to disrupt an opponent's momentum, but had never really been strictly enforced by tennis authorities.
Last year, Andy Murray made headlines with his angry reactions to Stefanos Tsitsipas repeated bathroom breaks during their US Open match.
“It’s not so much leaving the court. It’s the amount of time. It’s nonsense and he knows it,” Murray said. "I have zero time for that stuff at all and I lost respect for him.”
Tsitsipas won the match in an epic five-set battle, and Murray was reasonably aggrieved by what he perceived as gamesmanship.
Tennis coach Patrick Mouratoglou - who currently works with Simona Halep - believes Tsitsipas learned the tactic from Novak Djokovic.
He said: “He found out that Djokovic took time for himself in the locker room and was able to reset and come back differently. He learned that, tried it and it worked out for him. That’s why he continues to do it”.
The fallout from that incident, and many others besides, led to the ATP instituting strict new guidelines on bathroom breaks.
Previously, the rules simply stated that players should take a "reasonable" amount of time during a bathroom break but are now allowed three minutes, plus an additional two minutes to change clothes.
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24/11/2022 AT 11:09