Washington: A shoe mishap struck Greek top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas for a third consecutive match Friday at the ATP Washington Open but couldn't stop him from continuing his impressive run.
Tsitsipas, who will rise to world number five on Monday, defeated French 10th seed Benoit Paire 7-5, 6-0 in a 74-minute quarter-final, but not until after his laces broke at a key moment and he changed to a new left shoe.
That delay brought complaints from Paire and a statement shoe change by the Frenchman in what quickly became known as "Shoe-gate."
With Tsitsipas up 2-0 and serving at deuce, his left shoelaces broke and he delayed the game while going to his chair for a new shoe.
"My laces are breaking on the last hole, when I'm sliding forehand side. My laces touch the ground. There's a friction that causes the breakage of my shoelaces."
Paire, irked by the unexpected stoppage, complained to the umpire to no avail.
"In a way he was right," Tsitsipas said. "It has happened many times in the past. I've been struggling with it.
"I'm not doing it on purpose. Some people think I'm doing it on purpose. It always happens in crucial moments when I'm trying really hard to give everything on the court.
"It's very irritating for me to keep playing with a shoe that's not tight. It can fall off at any moment during the rally. Once in Barcelona it happened."
Later, Paire halted the match to make his own shoe change, giving the umpire a mournful look as he pointed to his left shoe while walking to his chair in what appeared to be a protest.
"That was funny," Tsitsipas said, chuckling at the memory of Paire's move. "I didn't know whether to laugh or keep a serious face. It was hilarious."
Australia's Nick Kyrgios, who will face Tsitsipas in the semi-finals, added: "It was quite humorous."
Tsitsipas said that he and Paire were on good terms after the match, laughing together as they shook hands at the net.
"He even told me there was nothing between him and me with the shoelace thing," Tsitsipas said.
Shoemaker Adidas has sent him an extra four or five pairs of only left shoes because of his issues.
He is also trying to adjust his footwork, but for now Tsitsipas and his rivals must live with it.
"I know it can be frustrating sometimes when you take too much time and it's 40-all and a big time in the match," Tsitsipas said.
"But it's inside the rules."