Andy Murray’s US Open spat regarding toilet breaks has brought about a change to the rules overseeing calls of nature during matches.
While so-called tactical trips to the bathroom have been a problem for years, the 34-year-old Scot’s New York protests about opponent Stefanos Tsitsipas has finally provoked action from the tennis hierarchy.
From next year the ATP Tour will bring in fixed limits which will allow only one loo visit per match, for a maximum of three minutes once they enter the facility.
Players on the ATP and women’s WTA tours have regularly been accused of using bathroom breaks as tactical weapons at crucial times in matches. Stefanos Tsitsipas was accused of cheating at this year’s US Open by Andy Murray after the Greek champion walked off the court at various times during their marathon first-round match.
The third seed had a lengthy toilet break at the end of the second set, a medical time-out after the third and a near eight-minute break at the completion of the fourth set. In his next match, Tsitsipas went to the locker room for more than seven minutes after losing the third set and was jeered by the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd on his return.
Tsitsipas explained that he was not breaking any rules, which is why the ATP has decided to act.
Tsitsipas had explained himself during a match with Frenchman Adrian Mannarino why he would leave the court.
"It's good for me to be less sweaty, feel fresh and start a new set with a fresh mindset and recalibrate myself. You carry less weight on you with all the sweat.
"I follow the rules, I didn't break anything, there is a rule for that that doesn't really specify the time that you have to spend in the bathroom," he stated.
Players will be limited to one toilet break per match and they will only be permitted at the end of a set. Should a player spend too long in the bathroom he will be liable for time violations.
The ATP is also looking at new rules for medical timeouts by which players will only be allowed one three-minute time out per match to be taken during a changeover or a set break only.