LONDON – Stefanos Tsitsipas, the rising Greek tennis star, has suffered another ignominious, possibly career-threatening blow, after he was booed at the U.S. Open for a lengthy toilet break on court.
During his second-round match against Philipp Kohlschreiber in New York, 21-year-old Tsitsipas informed the stadium PA system that he had to visit the toilet five times in his last seven games, causing 1,000 fans in Arthur Ashe Stadium to boo him.
But the 19th seed’s descent continued when he skipped his changeover after the 11th game of the second set to receive medical treatment.
This time he received a much more sympathetic response from the crowd, which was in the majority cheering him on as he received his stop-start treatment.
So does this mean Tsitsipas will never play in an ATP Tour event again? Has he reached “peak boos”?
After his straight-sets defeat in New York, Tsitsipas admitted that being booed in New York for taking a toilet break was tough on his “person.”
“It is really tough being booed at the U.S. Open, I know it’s not true boos, it’s just kind of silly,” he said.
“If I could do something to make it not such a difficult situation, yes I would.”
Tsitsipas revealed that playing at the U.S. Open helped him get used to life as a professional tennis player in North America after arriving in the U.S. at the end of August.
“Definitely now we’re real pros,” he said. “This summer I was trying to become a professional out here and get used to this culture, this way of thinking and stuff like that. That’s a good experience for me to be here in the U.S.”
What does that mean for the rest of his career?
“I just want to be here for a long time,” he said. “Just to do more. I’m happy to win the doubles (at the U.S. Open) and the singles, and that’s my first real (professional) event. I want to win so many, I want to play as much as I can.”
Tsitsipas’s idol is Rafael Nadal, the world No. 1, and he said he loved watching Nadal play.
“I follow him a lot, I like his demeanor,” he said. “I am trying to be like him in every way. It’s not so hard.”
Tsitsipas declined to talk about getting booed in New York, but he had high praise for former British and current Serbia captain Wally Masur for steering him to glory in New York.
“It is so great that Wally was with me the whole summer,” he said. “He has been helping me and he said that I had great passion to learn and he told me to have a lot of good fights. It means a lot to me because I really believe he’s a great guy.”
Some lucky mascot was not so lucky in New York, when a large man — a mascot — and a bag of flour got a giant raspberry from the rowdy fans in New York, when they pointed an ominous finger of blame at Tsitsipas.
Masur, who beat Great Britain’s Dan Evans for his first main draw victory in three years on Tuesday night in New York, said he hasn’t yet spoken to Tsitsipas about his possible break-up with the Greek in the wake of their row.
Asked if he thought Tsitsipas could continue to thrive at the top level despite the controversy, Masur said he was sure.
“I certainly don’t expect him to drop out of the top 50 or anywhere,” he said. “If anything he’s coming through it, now the next one is the ATP finals. He’s a full-blooded warrior, he’s a fighter. So it will be interesting to see how it goes.”