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An Interview With: Kevin Anderson (Round 4)

Monday, September 07, 2015

Q. How good did that shower feel tonight?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah, you know, obviously knowing I was playing Andy in the fourth round a couple days ago, it's sometimes tough not to wonder and think about the match, think post the match and what it will be like. Obviously sitting here having played the match and winning it, it's hard to describe how I'm feeling. I felt I played one of the best matches of my career. To do it at this stage, at this round, obviously to get through to the quarters the first time in a slam definitely means a lot to me.

Q. Were you able to read all the texts from the University of Illinois alumni players?
KEVIN ANDERSON: I turned my phone onto flight mode before. It's interesting. I think my phone kind of froze. I got so many. It was awesome to see all the support and actually amazing to see how many people were watching the match.

Q. To what degree does your demeanor play into your success?
KEVIN ANDERSON: I'm not sure. Especially in a match like that where I felt there was so much energy out there, you know, I was just really trying to focus on the basics as much as I could. I mean, I was feeling it a lot.

I guess I wasn't showing a whole lot. But, you know, I was just really taking it one point at a time, taking care of my serve games. Yeah, especially I think in that instance where there is so much, you can easily sort of get caught up. I mean, I was definitely feeling it in terms of fatigue. It was a very physical match. I was trying to balance conserving energy but at the same time showing some emotion.

I felt, you know, at least I found a good balance there. Maybe I wasn't ecstatic, all sorts of jumping up and down, but inside I definitely found a really good balance.

Q. What was your key to your dominance in the tiebreaker at the end?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah, you know, at that point having lost that third-set breaker, in the fourth I was just like, you know, really focused just one point at a time. Obviously winning my first point on my serve, then going 2-Love up, hitting a really good return winner to go 3-Love up, like just let me get one of these next serve points. To get both of them, now I'm suddenly 5-Love up. I was able to swing a little bit on that next point, grinded out a good point.

I think always with breakers, it's really just about not getting too far ahead of yourself. I mean, not many times you are going to win it 7-0. So obviously switching in at 6-0, it's a lot more comfortable than being 5-All, 6-All, something like that.

Q. I know you have a Green Card, but how close are you to U.S. citizenship? Is there any chance you would ever play Davis Cup for the United States?
KEVIN ANDERSON: I have my Green Card. Right now I'm getting it through my marriage. There's like a three-year time you have to have your Green Card for. But within that three years you have to spend a certain amount of days in the U.S. It's like 50%. I'm like at 45%. I think maybe I'll be eligible sometime next year, I think.

In terms of Davis Cup, no, I'm not going to be playing for the U.S.

Q. You haven't had a ton of success against Andy in the past. What sort of tactical adjustments did you make coming into this match?
KEVIN ANDERSON: I think obviously quite a few things. I played him a few times. Just in this matchup, I think there's more than just a couple tacticals for the match. It goes way back in my preparations. I've got a great team behind me, all the work that they do and the support, you know, from obviously my coach to my fitness trainers, my physical trainers. I've been working with a sports psychologist, as well. Obviously I think that's been a big benefit for me, just being more comfortable in these big positions.

I feel like the last while I've put myself in that position, obviously being in the fourth round a few times but falling a little bit short. Today it feels good to take a little step and actually beat one of the best guys in the world in the fourth round of a slam, as well.

Q. How does this register at home?
KEVIN ANDERSON: It will be interesting to see. Over the last couple years, I feel like there's been quite a bit of press following my results on the tour. Obviously there's been a lot of Davis Cup questions regarding my participation. I've just always tried to point out I just feel like wins like this, at least when I was growing up, would mean a lot to see somebody from South Africa. I was looking at Wayne Ferreira. I know that the coverage has been great, so I'm pretty sure there will be quite a bit of press back home. That definitely feels good to see that. Obviously tennis is struggling a bit, so obviously the more the better.

Q. That crowd was pretty rough on you for a while there. Was there a moment you wanted to say, I'm kind of American here?
KEVIN ANDERSON: It was so much fun playing out there. It was packed from the first point right till the end. The crowd was really getting into it. Playing Andy, who is a champion here, obviously he's always going to have so much support.

I felt I had quite a bit, as well. There were quite a few chants going on. I've never really been somebody who's been affected by the crowd even if I'm not the favorite for the match, but I must say playing out there will be definitely one for the memory bank.

Q. Without going into any personal detail, how has this sports psychologist helped you?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah, I mean, I think on numerous fronts. I think especially at this level, there's such fine details. I think a lot of the physical side, obviously I'm working on that. But I felt just from the mental side, being as neutral as possible in these big matchups, somebody just to talk through, you know, sort of understands how I think and stuff has definitely been a huge benefit for me.

I definitely feel even though it's a gradual process, I feel like I'm on the right path and making good decisions.

Q. Do you feel you're as mentally strong as the top four guys?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah, I mean, that's my goal. That's how I approach my tennis. Obviously I want to get to that stage. Top 10 has been a lifelong dream for me. I feel like I'm getting closer. Even top 5, I think that's ultimately where I want to be.

So we try structure and think that way. Obviously it's a lot of tennis and a lot of wins to get there. But I feel like over the last while I've definitely been on a good part and am giving myself the best opportunity to get there.

Q. The American public does not know you all that well. If there was one thing you want them to know about you, what would it be?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Oh, you know, in terms of the American public, obviously I've been living in the U.S. for 10 years. Obviously I'm still South African. But I have a lot of ties here. I went to college here. My wife is American. I live in the U.S. It's one of my favorite places to play.

Even though I'm South African, I'd like people to know that it definitely means a lot what the States has actually given me over the last 10 years.

Q. What are your thoughts on facing Stan?
KEVIN ANDERSON: It's going to be the first time at a major. Obviously I've played him a few times now. Had some success against him the last few times we've played. Very close matches. I mean, Paris last year, he served for the match. I was able to come through and get that. At Queen's this year, I think it was two tiebreak sets, so very close. I played very good tennis.

So it's going to be a tough match. I mean, I think especially in the last few years, he's really put himself up there as one of the main contenders for slams. I really feel he's playing some of his best tennis. To win two slams in the last year and a half is obviously a testament to that.

He knows what it takes. He's been in that position. It's my first time, but I feel like I'm hitting the ball very well. I know what to expect going into the match. It's just about giving myself the best opportunity and obviously trying to execute as best as I can.

Q. How about contrast of styles?
KEVIN ANDERSON: I think some similarities. Both serves, I think we both have a very good serve. Obviously his backhand I think is his main shot-maker. I think he has a bit more variety than me on that. At the same time, I feel like I'm able -- at least I have been in our matches -- to stay with him from the back. When I've been aggressive, I've been able to keep him at bay. He's one of the best shot makers in the game. I think I come forward a little bit more than he does. It will definitely be an interesting matchup.

Q. After you lost the third set, for a second what went through your mind? The match against Djokovic in Wimbledon?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Funny you mention that. It was definitely on my mind quite a bit there because I felt we were playing some long points. It was a long match. I mean, over four hours for four sets. I was fatiguing a little bit in the third. But I just stuck with it.

I think it was important for me going into the match, thinking back to Wimbledon, the way I played there. That's how I wanted to play again today.

Once I was up two sets to love, I think it was important not to think about it. I was just really happy with the way I stuck the course, especially in the fourth set. I think he was really finding his way back in the match. He was getting the crowd going. I just really stuck to my guns and I think I played a great fourth set.

Q. You have a great record, 4-3, against Wawrinka. Your confidence level is raising. Since 1980, you're going to be the first South African to reach the semifinals of the US Open. This is like pressure.
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah, I'm definitely not looking at it that way. It's going to be just a tough matchup in my next round. I mean, it's definitely not going to be any easier than it was today. As I was saying, I think Stan is a terrific player. Especially at majors he's really stepped it up, I think one of the people you really have to watch out for.

I'm just so pleased to get through the quarters for the first time here. Got tomorrow to prepare. Right now it's nice to think about from today's match. It really meant a lot to me. There's a lot of good feelings here.

Q. You said getting into the top 10 has been a dream. You are not that old, but you went to university, you started your professional career a little bit late. At any point have you ever felt you're too old to achieve your dream or too late to reach the top 10?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah, I mean, it's obviously a very interesting question. But I think if you look -- I think two things.

A, just the way I feel. My body's holding up great. I really do as much as I can to take care of myself. Going to college and turning pro a little bit later, I always felt myself a little younger than maybe some of the other guys my age who have been on the tour a little bit longer. It takes a bit more out of you than I think it was when I was in college and not traveling as much.

Secondly, I'm looking at the guys. I mean, just watching Roger playing at 33 or 34, just moving incredible. Obviously he's one of the best athletes of all times. Maybe tough to compare myself to him. A lot of guys, Ivo Karlovic is over 35. I definitely feel my trajectory is still going up. I'm still improving. My desire is still there. Right now I don't think age is something to worry about.

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