TV commentator John McEnroe speculated that Novak Djokovic's controversial US Open tennis final timeouts could have been caused by cramping, but Djokovic insisted it was bleeding toenails.
A trainer gives Novak Djokovic medical treatment on a toe during a controversial moment of the US Open men's singles final.
You can't get treatment on court for cramp, so it was the big talking point of the final, other than the fact that the world No 1 was beaten by his buddy Stan Wawrinka, 6-7(1) 6-4 7-5 6-3, in a hard-fought four hour battle.
.At times they didn't look like buddies, most notably in the second game of the fourth set when Djokovic began grimacing in pain during his service game and hobbling between points.
Djokovic called a controversial medical break when down 1-3 in the fourth set, and a trainer went to work taping up his toes.
McEnroe, commentating for ESPN, suggested Djokovic was getting leg cramps, the kind of injury that is not eligible for treatment by a trainer on court.
Djokovic insisted cramping was not the problem. "Just the toenails were off and bleeding. It was quite painful to move around," he told reporters.
"Stan, sorry man," said Djokovic to Wawrinka. "I couldn't stand, sorry."
The first medical timeout lasted about six minutes and he took one more, just before serving to stay in the match at 2-5. That one lasted about four minutes, The Los Angeles Times reported.
McEnroe's brother, Patrick, also an ESPN commentator, said it was a "complete abuse of the rules." Djokovic said he was allowed to take it, so he did.
Wawrinka asked the chair umpire what was going on when the first injury timeout came right before his serve, which was not on a changeover. Despite the timing - coming at such a critical juncture - he managed to hold his serve and his nerve.
Though Djokovic emerged from the medical break with more spring in his step, he was not able to break Wawrinka again, a persistent problem that may have cost him the match as he converted only three of his 17 break point opportunities.
Wawrinka's win posed the question of whether the big four of Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray was now a big five, The Los Angeles Times said.
"He deserves to be in the mix, no doubt about it," Djokovic, who was generous in praise of his opponent, said. "Stan won three Grand Slams now and three different ones ... and he plays the best in big matches."
"The Big Four, I'm really far from them," Wawrinka said. "Just look at the tournaments they've won, how many years they've been there. ... I'm proud of myself by winning three Grand Slams. This is something I never expect and dream about. But I have them and I'm happy to take the trophy back home."