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Sloane Stephens' bizarre mid-match food craving in Australian Open upset loss

The American called for sushi and smoothies in her third round match but it didn't provide the energy boost she was looking for.

Pictured Sloane Stephens
During Sloane Stephens' third round match against Anna Kalinskaya she called on sushi and smoothies as a mid-match snack. Image: Getty/Channel 9

Everyone has the odd craving at times for a particular food and Sloane Stephens is no different. The American won the first set of her third-round Australian Open match against Anna Kalinskaya but after going down 5-0 in the second set she called for a mid-match meal.

During the match, Stephens' coach organised two servings of sushi and two smoothies to be delivered to the tennis star. The American was rushed out the food by a ball kid in what was a strange moment on Saturday afternoon.

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The chair umpire was far from amused by the move, however, the commentators and fans saw the humour in the peculiar break in play. “(Stephens is) being told to hurry up between points, just a bit of discussion (with the chair umpire), and amongst that just knocking off a little bit of sushi as well,” a Channel 9 commentator said.

USA's Sloane Stephens reacts on a point against Russia's Anna Kalinskaya during their women's singles match on day seven of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 20, 2024. (Photo by Anthony WALLACE / AFP) / -- IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE -- (Photo by ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP via Getty Images)
The snack break didn't aid the former US Open champion, who went on to lose the match 6-7 6-1 6-4. Image: Getty (ANTHONY WALLACE via Getty Images)

"So she is multi-tasking out here. It’s pretty impressive,” another added. “We just saw her coach come and give one of the ball kids some, it looked like two packets of sushi, it looked like that’s what she was eating. Obviously needing some well-needed fuel." However, the snack break didn't aid the former US Open champion, who went on to lose the match 6-7 6-1 6-4.

Saturday wasn't the first time Stephens reached for the Japanese delicacy during a match. In 2018 during her second-round US Open clash with Anhelina Kalinina, the American had some sushi and a slushie. She went on to win that match 4-6, 7-5, 6-2.

World No.75 Kalinskaya was too strong for the former Australian Open sem-finalist, continuing a shock run at Melbourne Park. Prior to this year, the 25-year-old had never won a match at the Australian Open. She will next take on Italian 26th seed Jasmine Paolini who blew past Anna Blinkova 7-6 (7-1) 6-4.

Zheng Qinwen continues inspired Australian Open run

Having watched fellow Chinese woman Li Na's historic Australian Open triumph "more than 10 times", an inspired Zheng Qinwen has reached the fourth round for the first time. The 12th seed outlasted compatriot Wang Yafan on Saturday, winning 6-4 2-6 7-6 (10-8).

Li became the first Asian woman to win the Australian Open crown ten years ago and Zheng, 21, said she clearly remembers Li's famous victory at Melbourne Park, where she bested Dominika Cibulova 7-6 (7-3) 6-0 in the final.

"Of course, cause I was sitting there in front of the TV and I watched from the beginning until the end and that final, I've watched it more than 10 times so I have a lot of memories," said Zheng, who reached the quarter-finals of the US Open last year.

"She's an unbelievable player - the first Asian woman who was the grand slam champion - how can you not remember that." Zheng will next face Oceane Dodin, who downed fellow French player Clara Burel 6-2 6-4.

- with AAP

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