Sloane Stephens misses her Haagen-Dazs, Maria Sharapova admires Rafael Nadal - Roland Garros diary

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A few years ago, I was taking a walk along the Champs-Elysees in Paris during the French Open and bumped into Sloane Stephens enjoying a Haagen-Dazs ice cream.

Stephens had already lost in singles and I figured that was her way of consoling herself. That’s what I would have done too.

On Saturday, after her battling victory over Camila Giorgi in the third round, Stephens told us how outraged she feels about the fact that the big Haagen-Dazs that was at the centre of the Champs-Elysees is now, unfortunately, a Five Guys burger joint.

“If you know anything, you know that the Haagen-Dazs on the Champs closed and now it’s a Five Guys. So that is so disrespectful,” said Stephens.

“So I have been really upset about that. But I have found one in a mall, like, across the street, so I have been able to regroup with that.”

Crisis averted!

MUTUAL RESPECT

Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal joked during his press conference that his surprise practice with Maria Sharapova in Rome led to him winning the title there, and that he’s happy to hit with the Russian again.

“It was a good practice for me. I won the tournament there,” he said with a smile. “Yeah, anytime. Ready to do it again. Was a good fun.”

Sharapova in turn heaped praise on the 10-time Roland Garros champion, when she was quizzed about the Spaniard in her press conference. She described Nadal as the ‘GOAT’ (greatest of all-time) when she tweeted about their quick practice together.

“I think it’s pretty remarkable what he’s done in his career. I think when you get to a certain point, you know, those numbers – there are a lot of people that can be considered greatest of all time, right?” said Sharapova.

“I don’t know if, when you’re that successful, if it’s even fair to measure them in numbers, because you don’t want to take anything away from somebody else that’s achieved maybe just as much or maybe even more or a little bit less.

“I have a lot of admiration for him. I have always loved the spirit that he carries on with, the focus. I think he only knows how to go at 100 per cent. If you look at the practice schedule, I mean, he’s out there for — he won two events, and in Rome, he’s practicing for three hours a day, he knows that that’s what works for him and he’s going to deliver that no matter his age, no matter the injuries, he shows up.

“That’s incredibly admirable, because the older you get in this sport, the more physical it is, tougher it is on the body. We know that.”

STATS OF THE DAY

2 – Nadal lost just two points in his first five games against Gasquet on Saturday.

4 – match points saved by David Goffin en route to his five-set victory against Gael Monfils on Saturday.

5 – Garbine Muguruza is through the Roland Garros fourth round for a fifth straight year.

5 – winners from Karolina Pliskova in her straight-sets defeat to Maria Sharapova, compared to 18 from her Russian opponent.

34 – Rafael Nadal has now won his last 34 completed sets at Roland Garros, breaking his own longest streak of 32 consecutive completed sets won here in 2007-09. Only Bjorn Borg, who won 41 sets in a row here in 1979-81, has recorded a longer streak of consecutive sets won at the French Open.

TOPSHOT-TENNIS-FRA-OPEN-MEN

QUOTES OF THE DAY

“I was one of the few people that, you know, said that she was, when her whole drug incident, I was, like, she was brave to say something. I didn’t have anything negative to say about Maria. So of course I wanted to read it and just see what was going on.”

— Serena Williams on Maria Sharapova.

“She really makes you go the extra mile and play the extra shot. She made me play a drop shot and go to the net. So well done Simona; right? But you really need to pull out the whole repertoire to be able to beat her because she’s just so crafty and smart. She opens the court really well. And when you play little short, that’s really — that was maybe the most amazing thing today. I knew right away from the get-go in the rally, if I’m going to win it or not. Because the moment I got deep, I knew I would have the chance to make the point. But as soon as you’re a little short, she starts opening you up and you run and run and run, and you hope and you pray to God for your life, but in the end you still lose the point. So that’s kind of annoying too. But it’s really amazing to play her because it’s really old tennis. “Old tennis,” I put it in quotes, quotation marks, just because it’s — she has to build the points, especially on clay. Maybe it’s a little different on other surfaces, but on clay she really has to build the point.”

— Andrea Petkovic gave a brilliant monologue when asked to discuss what makes Simona Halep so difficult to play against.

“I don’t take 30 seconds between every point to just make the opponent feel worse and those stuff. It’s more about the behaving around, not the tennis.”

— Karolina Pliskova says Maria Sharapova does whatever it takes to get a win.

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