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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Saturday September 4, 2021

Stefanos Tsitsipas took tons of heat for his prolonged bathroom breaks at the US Open – perhaps a bit too much? – but the Greek star still has his friends watching his back.

On Saturday in New York Maria Sakkari took questions about the issues that Tsitsipas faced in New York this year, when he was called out for taking seven-minute bathroom breaks by Andy Murray and consequently booed by the NY crowds on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Sakkari was asked if she knew how he was handling things mentally. “That's a question that I cannot answer, because I know Stefanos well, but I don't really know what's going on in his mind,” she said, before adding: Every person is different. I know that Stefanos doesn't really care what other people say, which is right, because, you know, he's out there to play tennis, not to think of what other people say about him.”

Sakkari says that we don’t need to worry about Tsitsipas – he’ll be fine.

“I think he's pretty strong mentally, and it's not gonna affect him in the long run,” she told reporters. “I think that as I said before in the Greek media, I'm pretty sure he doesn't do any of this on purpose. And I said that on a funny way that Stefanos is very intense on the court, but he's very slow in other movements, because I have played with him. I have seen how he – that's in a good way. I'm not saying that in a bad way that he's slow.”

When she says he’s slow, Sakkari is referring to the amount of time it takes Tsitsipas to pull his racquets out of the bag, etc… we all have a friend like that, don’t we? The one that leaves us waiting for him or her to emerge from the bathroom for what seems like an eternity?

“I just want to tell you that he's not a very intense guy with his movements. Like he takes time to take out his racquet and everything. I can see why he's late in the bathroom. I'm 100% sure he doesn't do that on purpose. He has my back on everything, for sure. He likes to take his time. And he always has my support. And as I said, I'm sure that he doesn't do it on purpose.”

Tsitsipas: The Only Thing I Did Was Change from Wet Clothes to Dry Clothes

Last night, Tsitsipas summed up a week’s worth of criticism about his bathroom breaks as follows. Settle in, this might take a while.

“I'm not pretending that everyone loves me. I don't want to be – my intentions are not to be loved by everyone,” he said. “Every person can choose their favorite player, pick a side. I felt that way, but I kind of have ignored it.

“Because people don't know, that's the thing. When people are not really in the sport and don't know what is happening, I mean, all these accusations have been completely false. The one in my match in Cincinnati, which was the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard in my life. Yeah, that was – I don't know what to say. I mean, that really shows the level of the person that said it.

“Then the crowd here, I guess these two things were the most intense that took place here. I was surprised, I mean, in a way. I mean, I don't really let myself take me down because I'm out there playing my game. I mean, fan support is important, but I just need to go out there and perform. It doesn't matter at that point.

“I know all of these things have been against me for no reason. I took my toilet break as a normal athlete. Might have taken a bit longer than other athletes. But if there is a rule that says there's a specific amount of time that you are allowed to take, then I would probably try and follow that protocol, that rule, and stay within the guidelines and try and follow it as much as possible.

But I feel like, you know, people, they don't understand. They are here for the show. They want to watch tennis. They're very impatient, especially the new generation. They just want to get it done quick. For me the only thing I did is change from wet clothes to dry clothes.”