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January 29, 2016

Angelique Kerber

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Singapore really was a turning point for you. The Safarova match. Can you talk a little bit how that's really kick started your 2016.
ANGELIQUE KERBER: Yeah, for sure, the Safarova match in Singapore, that changed also a lot in myself, you know, because I was telling me after this that I will never let the pressure again wins against me.

Yeah, I had a lot of challenges here also in this tournament where I was really nervous. I was thinking about this match and what's happened there. I was telling, okay, take this challenge and try to take the experience from Singapore and change it. So that was the change also for my mentality and my nerves, what I have actually before every match.

Q. You haven't had the easiest of runs, both in Brisbane and here. Do you think that's all really helped on the eve of your first Grand Slam final? Do you feel more comfortable?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: Yeah, I feel very comfortable. I think that was the best start I had of the year. I mean, I reached the finals in Brisbane. I played very good tennis there. Then I played here good matches. Of course, the first one was very close, tough, with a lot of nerves in the match. I had the match point down.

But after that I came to the tournament and I played from match to match better. I think everything cames together good, so right now I'm in the finals. Yeah, I'm happy. I have a lot of confidence.

Q. 2014 you were 0-4 in Premieres. 2015 you won four. You weren't great at the majors. Now one year later you're in the final. Do you think you're just a quick learner? Where does that come from? Everything you put your mind to in terms of wanting to fix you've been able to do fairly quickly.
ANGELIQUE KERBER: Yes, I think I'm really a quick learner. When I make a mistakes, I try to learn from my mistakes, make it just once and not twice. I'm trying to take the experience for the next challenges I get.

Yeah, I think this is also what is good, that I take the negative to positive and try to learn very fast because in the tennis business you have the chance every week, so this is also good.

Q. When you sat down with Torben during the off-season, what was the discussion about 2016? What was the purpose of this year, the mindset going into this year?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: So we sit down at the end of last year. We were speaking just to focus more on the bigger tournaments, trying to improve also my tennis. Focusing not to, like, playing on semis or finals or winning tournaments, more like to improving my game, my personality, and also going out there to try to play every single match my best tennis, focusing more on the bigger ones. That was actually our conversation.

Q. Maybe now you can tell us what did Steffi text you yesterday.
ANGELIQUE KERBER: She told me, Congrats, and she is happy for me, and good luck in the finals.

Q. Serena spoke about the stress of trying to match Steffi. We saw what happened in New York. Is that something in your favor? Do you think that might have an effect on her or not?

Q. Yes.
ANGELIQUE KERBER: No, I mean, Serena played very great here. I saw the match against Aga yesterday. She will go out there to win her next Grand Slam. I must be ready to take the challenge to play against the best player right now. She's the world No. 1. She's the champion. She won everything.

I have actually nothing to lose. But still I will go out there to try to challenge her, playing good tennis. I know that I won against her once, so I can beat her. But I must play my best I can play.

Q. What is the hardest thing about playing Serena?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: You know, against Serena you never know how she's serving. I mean, she's serving unbelievable good. She's returning good. I think the first few balls, they are really deciding in the match.

I must be there from the first point and playing very deep. When I'm too short, she's just going for it. She is making winner, winner and winner. I saw it yesterday against Aga. I must be ready to, yeah, play my game and being also aggressive like she is.

Q. Both you and Serena have said you have nothing to lose tomorrow. Obviously there is the match to lose. What do you specifically mean by 'nothing to lose'?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: 'Nothing to lose' means I can go out there and try to play like I'm playing, without pressure, without nothing. Yeah, I think when you ask a lot of people, I think most will say, Okay, Serena will win. But this is the challenge I can take.

I go out there, I don't have nothing to lose. I don't have so much pressure like she has. This is what I mean that I have nothing to lose. I know I can lose the match. That's why I'm going out there to try to win the match.

Q. Do you think she has more pressure than you do?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: At the end I think so, yes.

Q. How important was your grandfather? He built the great facilities in Poland.
ANGELIQUE KERBER: Yes, he is a really important person for me. Without him and without my parents and my family, I will be not here now. He is also following and he's sitting in front of TVs. He is not sleeping actually the whole two weeks.

He is a really important person for me. Yeah, without him, I will be not here, for sure.

Q. You said you're trying to treat the Grand Slams like a Premier, just like any other tournament. Obviously at this point it probably begins to feel a little bit different. How do you do that? How do you treat all of this as though it's no big deal?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: You know, I was trying to being like I am, you know, not thinking, Okay, now this is a Grand Slam, it's a big tournament. Of course now I'm feeling it's a little bit different. But I like it actually (smiling).

I was trying actually to stay relaxed, to being like normal like I am. I'm in the official hotel also. I was trying, okay, let's do it like we do it always in the smaller tournaments.

Yeah, it works.

Q. How are the reactions back home in Germany? This is a big thing for your country as well.
ANGELIQUE KERBER: I think it's very big. I don't know too much because I'm here. But I heard that the tennis, it's going bigger. Again, I think it's very good for the tennis, and also for Germany, for me of course.

I get a lot of messages that they are all supporting me, they are proud of me, yeah. The fingers are crossing in Germany for the finals for me.

Q. Which message stands out for you?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: You know, I had really a lot of messages. Of course, the important is when your family is writing you, the closest friends, they are really supporting you from the beginning. They are always behind you when it was not so good.

Yeah, this is actually what is really nice to read.

Q. Are you being recognized around Melbourne? When you walk around now, do you get people stopping you?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: Yes, now it's getting more. I was walking on the river this morning. A lot of runners stopped by and said, Good luck for the finals. We saw your match yesterday.

Now it's getting more and more.

Q. Is that different than the past years?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: It's for sure different than last year. I lost last year in the first round so I was not so long here. But, yeah, it's a little bit different.

Q. Do you think you're more comfortable now with the idea that you are a top player? You're going to be a top-5 player after this tournament is over. Are you more comfortable now than maybe two years ago, maybe even last year?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: Yeah, I think right now I have the confidence, you know, to be really a top-5 player and feel it. I think I grow in the last few years to be a top-10 player. Now I'm back in the top 5.

You know, it feels good. I feel it also inside. I think I'm ready for it to be now in the top 5. I think I show everybody that I deserve it. That's a good feeling.

Q. This morning I saw you training right next to Serena. Did you have any particular training having to face her, maybe some return of serve? Don't you spoil your plan training right next to her at the next court?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: I was waiting when she went (laughter). I was practicing my normal practice. Of course, then she left the court and then I was starting to practice my game plan.

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