Andy Murray’s US Open rant about toilet breaks has brought about a change to the rules governing calls of nature during matches.
While tactical trips to the bathroom have been an issue for years, the 34-year-old Scot’s New York protests about opponent Stefanos Tsitsipas has finally provoked action.
From next season 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.
Andy Murray has long called for the ATP to limit the amount of toilet breaks players can take
An additional two minutes will be allowed if a change of clothes is requested, and breaks will be permitted only at the end of a set.
The move is designed to head off a repeat of Flushing Meadows, where Murray was left furious after Tsitsipas disappeared from the court for nearly eight minutes before their deciding set.
The Greek did something similar in his next round, adding to his association with a practice that has crept in over the past 10 years. He is not alone and Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have been among others to display suspiciously weak bladder control.
Stefanos Tsitsipas left the court for nearly eight minutes against Murray at the US Open.
The Scotsman was unimpressed with the length of the Greek’s toilet break in the States
After losing to Tsitsipas, Murray posted an amusing tweet, suggesting that it took Jeff Bezos a shorter time to blast into space than it did for the Greek to relieve himself.
While the ATP can only bring in a rule for events on the regular men’s tour, the Grand Slams such as Wimbledon are likely to follow suit as ways are sought to cut the amount of ‘dead’ periods in matches. Transgressors can expect time violations that will lead to points being awarded to opponents.
The WTA Tour are likely to give their players more leeway but there is a consensus that the practice of leaving the court as a tactic to mentally regroup, or disrupt an opponent’s momentum, have run out of control.
There is a consensus players are abusing the strategy of leaving the court for a few minutes
There has also been a parallel concern that medical timeouts are being used in a similar way, and that is expected to be next on the list for a sport which rarely moves swiftly to enforce discipline on its players.
The likelihood is that these will become restricted to changeovers and possibly to one per match without forfeiting points.
Meanwhile, the Australian Open is expected to bring in stringent checks on the authenticity of vaccine certificates for the tournament in January.