Sports

US Open 2021: Andy Murray calls Stefanos Tsitsipas breaks ‘nonsense’ after first round loss

Andy Murray is aware that Stefanos Tsitsipas has a growing reputation for pushing the boundaries when it comes to taking breaks during a match. Murray expected that to be an issue during their first-round match at the US Open – and, when it was, that didn’t sit well. Not at all.

Murray figures there was enough for him to deal with in Monday’s high heat and humidity: He’s 34. He’s got an artificial hip. He’s ranked 112th after a series of health issues. At one point, he tumbled to the ground, losing his balance in sweat-soaked shoes and leaving splotches on the blue court from his soggy clothing.

So as the contest stretched to almost five hours, Murray did not appreciate that Tsitsipas took a medical timeout after the third set and made a lengthy visit to the locker room after the fourth. Following an entertaining, back-and-forth 2-6, 7-6 (7), 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 loss to Tsitsipas, Murray complained about what he considered unfair gamesmanship by the French Open runner-up and announced: “I lost respect for him.”

“It’s nonsense. And he knows it, as well,” said Murray, who is nearly a decade – and a pair of hip operations – removed from a US Open championship.

Told of Murray’s displeasure, the just-turned-23 Tsitsipas said: “If there’s something that he has to tell me, we should speak, the two of us, to kind of understand what went wrong. I don’t think I broke any rules.”

The whole thing lent some intrigue to the proceedings as the year’s last Grand Slam tournament got underway with fans in the stands at full capacity – the combined attendance for the day and night sessions was 53,783 – a year after all spectators were banned because of the coronavirus pandemic.

With exits for Murray and 2014 champion Marin Cilic, who stopped playing because of an injury in the fifth set against Philipp Kohlschreiber, the only man left in the draw after Day One with even one Grand Slam title is No. 1 Novak Djokovic.

He will debut Tuesday night as he tries to break a tie for the men’s mark of 20 majors with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal and become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to complete a calendar-year Grand Slam.

Monday night’s schedule in Ashe included No. 2 Daniil Medevev and two-time US Open champion Naomi Osaka. She was set to make her return to Slam action after pulling out of the French Open for a mental health break.

Some spectators griped about delays getting in, which the US Tennis Association said were largely caused by the time it took to inspect bags at the entry gates. The USTA added that checking for proof of vaccination required to attend the event this year went smoothly and did not contribute in a significant way to long lines.

Those lucky enough to be in Ashe rose and roared in unison when Murray smacked a forehand winner to claim the third set. He raised his right hand overhead and leaned forward as he shouted, “I’m not … Done! Let’s go!”

But it was Tsitsipas who wasn’t finished. He got treatment from a trainer on his left foot after that set, then headed off court again a set later for several minutes.

After he got broken right away and fell behind 2-0 in the fifth, Murray offered this observation on court: “It’s never taken me that long to go to the toilet. Ever.”

Murray explained later he thought the interruptions played a role. “It’s just disappointing, because I feel it influenced the outcome of the match. I’m not saying I necessarily win that match, for sure, but it had influence on what was happening after those breaks,” he said.

“You could argue that I shouldn’t let that affect me. But genuinely it is difficult, like, when you’re playing such a brutal match in those conditions to have those breaks. Physically you can’t stop that from affecting you. Mentally, yes, but physically you can’t.”