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August 20, 2016

Angelique Kerber

Cincinnati, Ohio

A. KERBER/S. Halep

6-3, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Congratulations. First set a bit up and down for both of you. Talk us through how you felt.
ANGELIQUE KERBER: Yeah, I think the first set was really close. I mean, we both like start with up and downs. I knew before I went on court that it will be a not easy match because we always have like tough battles in the past, especially the last one I lost in Montréal few weeks ago.

So I was trying to be focusing and, yeah, after the rain I was trying to stay positive and just go for it. So I start playing a little bit better.

And then the second set I was 4-0 up and she starts playing really well, no mistakes, going for it. I was at the end just trying to believe in my game, how I play, and just going for it.

Q. One win away from being world No. 1.
ANGELIQUE KERBER: I'm hearing it the whole week, so it's fine.

Q. Somebody had to say it. Do you think that winning four titles in 2015, the Australian Open, making the Wimbledon final, and then an Olympic silver medal has all led you to this point where you're ready for this moment?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: You know, I think of course I'm playing now one of my best tennis. It's one of the best year in my career. I had a lot of up and downs in the last few years and I had a lot of experience from which I learned.

I think now I'm showing that I'm really one of the best tennis players. It's still one match away, but it's still a long match. I will not thinking about this yet. I mean, let's see what's happen tomorrow; let's see what's going on.

For me, it's still important how I played the whole week. It's a new opponent, a new day, and after that we will see what happened yeah, it's not over yet.

Still one match to go.

Q. Do you think, on that point, that last week in Rio was a perfect example where you were favored to beat Puig and didn't work out, and that anything can happen.
ANGELIQUE KERBER: That's true, but for me, there are no favorites. Every match starts from zero and you are not in the final because you have luck. You have to play really good tournament to get to the finals.

And also Pliskova plays really well the whole week, it will be another tough match. I played a lot against her and it was always close and tough battles. For me, there are no favorites. It's 50/50 always when you go out there.

You have to play your best, especially when you're in the final. So that will be my goal. It's step by step, and still one more step to go.

Q. Third game of the second set was 22-point game. You won that to go up 3-Love. How difficult is it to come back and serve after a long game like that?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: It's always difficult. I mean, because especially against Simona, she's never giving up any ball. Doesn't matter what's the score. If it's 3-0 or 4-0 or she's up and down she's going for it. That's why it's always tough to serve or return when you have like a long game like we had for 3-0.

But you have to forget about the game what was before. You have to stay focusing for the moment, for the next point, and playing every single point.

Q. How do you feel physically, and what will you be doing this evening to get ready?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: Of course I'm a little bit tired. I mean, that's no secret. I had not too much time when I came here after Rio.

But I had a lot of treatments and like I'm trying to really relaxing in the evenings, going for nice dinner, drinking a lot here because it's really hot out there.

Just trying to, you know, yeah, enjoying actually everything and just making everything easier; not too complicated everything.

Q. You've always been a strong opponent on the tour. For a while you lacked consistency. You addressed that through your fitness with the tremendous results that you're seeing now. Do you recall the point at which you knew that really the next step to elevate your game?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: Yes, I think the next step for me was the fitness. I was working a lot in the last two years about that. When you know that you can run three hours on court, and especially if it's really hot out there, that gives you much more confidence when you're going out there.

You know you have to go for every ball, and I mean, the hard work pays off then on court. I mean, you are working so hard to going out there to having matches like that, to playing against the best players, and that's what was my next step, the fitness.

And also I think my mentality, to really being focused for every single point and being also more relaxed on court.

Q. I think that's your tenth match in 13 days.

Q. On two continents.

Q. How surprised are you that you're in the final?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: You know, I came here without any expectation. I came here after Rio, after a lot of emotions what I have there. I mean, I had a great week in Rio. I won my medal which I will take home, what was always a dream.

To came here, I was just trying to playing match by match. Not thinking about my draws, my opponents, about nothing. Just going out there trying to win every match, because every match was different here. That's why I'm really happy.

I'm not surprised, but I'm happy to, yeah, to go through it and be in another final.

Q. How much does a win over Simona - because on hard courts it's your first one - going into the US Open? You guys keep playing each other. You get the win on her. Does that matter to you?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: Of course. I mean, that gives me also another a lot more confidence, because she plays amazing the last few tournaments. She's always a tough opponent.

Especially because I lost the last one on hard court, so it's a great feeling to win against her, especially here. She played a good match. It was a good match from both of us.

Yeah, to have a lot of the matches to go into US Open, that was actually my goal. I think I have a lot. (Laughter.)

Q. You mentioned at 4-Love she started playing well. She got it to 4-3. You were serving at 4-3 and she had a break point. You mentioned you play point by point. Her fans started getting loud. How were you able to block that out?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: I was trying to staying positive, because I was calling my coach when it was 4-3 and he just told me, Stay positive and just go for it; playing point by point. And this was what I was doing. I was not thinking about everything around.

Also, when she had like the break point I was just trying to playing every single point and staying positive, not being too much negative.

Q. Just a moment ago you were talking about being a bit tired. Is it more mental or physically tired? Which one is tougher to deal with?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: Both is not so easy. I mean, mentally of course you have a lot of matches and I was traveling a lot from Rio to here, and a lot of the matches like physically as well.

But I think for me, it's like, yeah, when I'm mentally there, this is I think for me the toughest part. Physically I'm in this the good shape and I know in my mind that after tomorrow I will have few days off. I am not playing nothing next week.

So this is what gives me like a little bit hope after that, that I can relax a little bit before going then though New York.

Q. (Indiscernible.)
ANGELIQUE KERBER: I don't know. I mean, of course I will take few days off and then going to New York. I am not thinking about this right now. I'm just trying to still playing here and then making like few days rest before going then on Wednesday, Thursday to New York and trying to prepare for that tournament.

Q. You referred to staying positive a number of times as well as focusing on your mentality beyond physical training. Are you employing any techniques, any kind of visual or verbal messaging to yourself when you're out there to stay in that space and prevent yourself from going into this negative area?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: I learned a lot from the last months where I was playing with a lot of emotions. I think that was my, yeah, biggest thing to deal with, to be like positive and staying still focusing.

Sometimes also it's tough because you're making a lot of mistakes or playing not your best tennis. But that's the point where you have to be really relaxed and still believe in yourself.

So I'm trying just every time when I step on court to forgetting about everything, just thinking about my tennis, about the things I am doing on court.

And of course it takes time to learn it, but I think I'm on a good way to do it. I'm getting better and better on these things.

Q. Are you saying you won't go to New York until Wednesday or Thursday. What will you do? Where will you go?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: I don't know. I have no idea yet. I don't know what we will do, but -- I don't know. I don't know yet. Maybe we will go a little bit earlier to New York or we go somewhere else for few days. I have no idea what we do.

I think we will talk about that today.

Q. What do you liked to for relaxation?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: I like just to going out without tennis racquet and not thinking about tennis. Like going for shopping or like I love to go to beach. Like reading books or like going on the place where it's really quiet, not so many people, where I can take my coffee and just being for myself.

Q. I imagine being a top tennis player part of your preparation is being in control of what you're doing. What do you then do when there is so much rain? How fed up are you with the rain in 2016?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: I don't know. I think a lot of things change and it's amazing this year actually for me. I don't know. I'm trying to stay still the same and doing my things.

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