Fearless Carlos Alcaraz was not distracted by another mid-match bathroom break from Stefanos Tsitsipas on Friday, holding focus to upset the Greek third seed 6-3 4-6 7-6 (2) 0-6 7-6 (5) and advance to the fourth round of the US Open.
Having assumed the role of villain at this year’s US Open over his lengthy, well-timed trips to the restroom that have been criticized as strategic delay tactics, Tsitsipas threw everything he had at the 18-year-old Spaniard.
But Alcaraz held fast and became the youngest male player to reach the fourth round of a Grand Slam since 17-year-old Andrei Medvedev at 1992 Roland Garros.
“This victory means a lot to me. It’s the best match, the best win of my career,” said Alcaraz. “To beat Stefanos Tsitsipas is a dream come true for me.”
Tsitsipas took a toilet break at a crucial point in the match, leaving the court after losing a third set tie-break that put the Spaniard ahead 2-1. The crowd booed as Tsitsipas left the court while television timed him. The rules allow players to take two bathroom breaks of any length per five-set match.
Tsitsipas returned less than five minutes later and stormed through the fourth set 6-0 just as he did in the second round against Adrian Mannarino.
When Tsitsipas used two bathroom breaks during his first-round meeting with Andy Murray, the Scotsman accused him of cheating and later took to social media tweeting, “It takes Stefanos Tsitsipas twice as long to go the bathroom as it takes Jeff Bezos to fly into space.”
“All these accusations (of cheating) have been completely false,” Tsitsipas said after Friday’s match. “I took my toilet break as a normal athlete.”
“For me the only thing I did is change from wet clothes to dry clothes. Apparently it’s a huge issue.”
Unlike Murray and Mannarino, Alcaraz rebounded, giving no ground in a tense fifth set that went to a tie-break that the Spaniard claimed 7-5.
As the match began, Tsitsipas appeared unnerved as he stepped out on Arthur Ashe Stadium court and even more unsteady when Alcaraz applied all the early pressure, breaking him twice in the opening set to grab control 4-0 on way to a 1-0 lead.
There was more of the same in the second as Alcaraz again secured the early break to charge ahead 3-0. But this time Tsitsipas dragged himself out of the hole, sweeping five straight games on his way to leveling the contest.
Up 5-2 in the third, Tsitsipas looked to have weathered the Spanish storm only to have Alcaraz fight back and force a tie-break he would convincingly win 7-2.
The victory underscored Alcaraz’ status as the future Spanish heir apparent to 20-time Grand Slam winner Rafa Nadal, who is not in New York due to injury. – Rappler.com