The American dishes on her decision to hire Sven Groeneveld and why 'The Battle of Winterfell' left her confused.
WTA Insider Courtney Nguyen
May 4, 2019

MADRID, Spain - After a whirlwind week that saw her announce a new coach and engagement, Sloane Stephens is ready to get back to work at the Mutua Madrid Open. A French Open finalist last year, the World No.8 has always touted clay as her favorite surface and with new coach Sven Groeneveld in place, she's looking forward to finding her rhythm again.

"He's a good coach," Stephens told reporters at All Access Hour ahead of the Mutua Madrid Open. "I've known him for a really long time. He recruited me as a junior for Adidas. I think he's a good guy, a good coach. He's very structured and that's what I need."

"I hope it goes well. I've needed a coach, so I think I made a good decision with that. 

"It's going well so far. We'll just have to see what happens."

Asked about her expectations during the European clay season, Stephens cut a relaxed figure. 

"It's not going to get any worse than it was at the beginning of the season," Stephens said. "It always turns around, it always gets better, it doesn't stay bad for a long time. 

"I practiced really hard before I came here. Feeling good about it. Red clay is my favorite surface. I'm looking forward to the next few weeks. 

"This is the longest gap for me when I'm away from home. I try to get through it the best I can, but I think right now I need to focus and buckle down a little bit to get my game back and my results back. That's all I'm really focused on right now."

Well, that and Game of Thrones. Anyone who follows Stephens on social media knows she's a super-fan of the mega-hit HBO show, which kicked off its final season in mid-April. 

Needless to say, when Stephens was asked for her spoiler-full review of the season's first three episodes, the American had thoughts. 

"A lots happening, but then I saw the other day, Khaleesi, Emilia Clarke, was like Episode 5 is the best episode, and I was like s**t," Stephens said. "I totally changed what I thought was going to happen. 

"So now I'm just silent. I'm just going with the flow. I asked Madi (Madison Keys) to help us find HBO on someone's computer, get someone's VPN or something. I'll wake up Monday morning and watch it. 

"[The Battle of Winterfell] was the best episode of Game of Thrones ever. It was a little dark. I was like, is it my TV? What the hell is going on? It was dark in the sense of everyone was dying. And it was dark in like, literally the screen was dark. I can't see anything and it was foggy and s**t. 

"I was like, is it supposed to be like this? There was a lot of confusion.

"I mean Arya? Let's be real. Who saw that coming? But I definitely saw that coming because I was like, where the hell did she go for 15 minutes? I was like where is she? And then she comes back and does one of these things [lifts arm]. 

"It's a lot. I'm really looking forward to the next episode."