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Confirmed: ATP to introduce timed bathroom breaks for 2022

Players will only be allowed to take one break per match, at three minutes, plus two minutes extra if they change their clothes

Stefanos Tsitsipas bathroom break AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Extended bathroom breaks, one of the most contentious issues of the 2021 season, are set to be a thing of the past on the men’s tour in 2022 after the ATP decided to introduce new rules to clamp down on those taking advantage of the current system.

The news, first reported in French sports paper L’Equipe on Monday, was confirmed to Tennis Majors by an ATP spokesman. Players will be allowed to take only one bathroom break per match, timed at a maximum of three minutes from the moment a player reaches the bathroom.

In addition, players will be allowed two minutes extra to change their clothes, ensuring that players should be back on court within a maximum of five minutes of entering the bathroom if they’re also changing their clothes). The bathroom break must be taken at the end of a set.

The rule – which was trialled at the recent Next Gen Finals in Milan – is designed to end the kind of controversies we saw this year, particularly involving Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Tsitsipas used an extended bathroom break on a number of occasions over the summer, most notably in the first round of the US Open against Andy Murray. Tsitsipas had just levelled the match at two sets apiece when he took a break of eight minutes, leaving former world No 1 Murray, who lost the decider, to say he “lost respect” for the Greek, the long break making him start to cool down on court.

Tsitsipas said he was doing nothing different to when world No 1 Novak Djokovic took a bathroom break, trailing him by two sets to love in the final at Roland-Garros, but the contentiousness is mostly related to the length of the breaks.

Under the new rules, communicated to players and seen by Tennis Majors, players will have to take their one bathroom break at the end of a set. If they’re not back in time, they will face time violations.

In addition, medical time-outs will be modified. They will remain at three minutes but must now be taken at a changeover or at the end of a set. If a player can’t play on until the changeover or set break, they must give away the points necessary to do so. The start date for this change has yet to be confirmed.

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