Eyes down - it's time for tennis bingo
Eyes down - it's time for another round of post-match press conference bingo. Today, it's Sloane Stephens.
The American 21-year-old may be one of the most perplexing talents in tennis right now. Having burst onto the scene with victory over Serena Williams en route to the Australian Open semi-finals in 2013, she finished the year as the world No.12.
In contrast, 2014 has played out like a difficult second album. Ahead of the US Open, her win-loss record was keys-to-the-door/goodbye-teens. Now down to knock-at-the-door in the world rankings, she is set to fall further after her grand slam season came to an abrupt end at the hands of Sweden's Johanna Larsson. If you make a staggering tickle-me unforced errors in cup-of-tea sets of tennis... Okay, we'll stop now.
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Problem is, Stephens barely seems to care. It's something of a calling card, this post-loss ataraxia - and it's got the experts baffled. Is it genuine? Self-defence? Arrogance? Or is Stephens a robot?
Alright, Stephens is not a robot. But she is a random sports quote generator. In her post-match presser, the 21-year-old found a way to return to three go-to soundbites that every tennis player is duty-bound to know off by heart for such an occasion:
1. I'm not going to dwell on this 2. There's always room for improvement 3. I'm looking forward to my next tournament
Hey, tennis players. Please don't spout these out at every press conference. It makes you sound like insufferable bores.
And it was not just once. It was over and over again. See how many you spot...
Are you struggling to build up your confidence?
"I haven't had that great of a season, but I'm not going to dwell on it. There is always room for improvement."
What were your emotions after the match?
"Missed opportunities, but I won't dwell on it too much. There is room for improvement and I can do a lot of things better. I'm just going to take that and move on."
Do you wish this year would just end already?
"No - there is a lot of the year left. It's far from over. I'm really looking forward to it."
And, the piece de resistance - a quickfire hat-trick:
Is it tough to follow up a breakthrough season?
"Everyone works at their own pace. I'm not going to dwell on this, I'm just going to keep improving and getting better and looking forward."
As Alison Krauss and Ronan Keating once crooned, you say it best when you say nothing at all.
Kudos Sloane. Keep looking forward. Keep improving. And never, ever dwell.