American tennis player Reilly Opelka has offered his support to Stefanos Tsitsipas amid ongoing criticism about the Greek player’s comfort breaks.
Tsitsipas used the maximum time for stoppages during his five-set win over Andy Murray in the opening round of the US Open, including a bathroom break that lasted over eight minutes prior to the decisive final set.
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The incident is not the first time that the world number three has attracted attention for the length and timing of his stoppages, and Andy Murray was heavily critical of what the Brit suggested was strategic manipulation of the rules.
However, as the conversation rolls on, Opelka says the level of coverage of the debate has been overblown.
"I think it's ridiculous. I understand it's getting press because tennis is lame and tennis media sucks and they're terrible," Opelka said after sealing his spot in the second round at Flushing Meadows.
"It's hot and humid, and for the media, the press that have never stepped foot on a tennis court in their life, have never been in the environment, couldn't last 30 minutes out in this humidity, in this heat. It's physical, our sport is. My shoes are dripping, they're leaking sweat.
"To change or to go after, you know, two sets we're drinking, we're hydrating a lot, we have to use the bathroom.
"To change socks, shoes, my inserts in my shoes, shorts, shirts, everything, the whole nine yards, hat, it takes five, six minutes.
"I don't know Tsitsipas, I don't know his situation, I doubt he's getting coached. I highly doubt it. Today I couldn't even take my bag in to change. I'm like, guys, my clothes and shoes are in here. You can come in and stand with me if you want."
Grand Slam rules dictate that male players in best-of-five matches can utilise two breaks "for a reasonable time for a toilet break, a change of attire break, or both".
However, Tsitsipas’ use of that rule has been heavily criticised by a number of opponents.
And American tennis legend Chris Evert says that the vague nature of the rule allows plays opportunities to push the boundaries.
"It's so vague. Another vague rule in tennis. And I think that's what Andy was complaining about," the 18-time major champion told ESPN.
"Let me tell you, eight to 10 minutes, that gives the player time to sit with himself, to figure out what he needs to do, to reset if he needs to, to reach into his bag and get a phone call. Or reach into his bag and read a text. It opens the door to a lot of things that maybe aren't fair in tennis."
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