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September 10, 2016
New York, NY, USA
A. KERBER/K. Pliskova
6-3, 4-6, 6-4
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. How would you describe the Angie Kerber who was on the tour before 2016 and the Angie Kerber who has been on the tour this year?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: I think a lot of things change. I mean, it's just incredible what I did this year. I'm really so happy and so proud about everything what's happened now about my team, about my game, and about my improvement, as well.
I think I improved a lot in a lot of ways. To being here with my second trophy, it's just the best feeling ever.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about the ways you improved.
ANGELIQUE KERBER: I was really trying to improving a lot of things. First of all, of course, my fitness and then to being more aggressive and go for it when I have the chance. Not just hitting the balls over the net. Just playing my game. Because I know that when I practicing I can be aggressive.
Just make the transfer on the match court, that was the challenge. And also, mentally to being more positive, a little bit more stronger, and just focusing on the moment I am on court.
Q. In line with that, at the end of the second set, beginning of the third, looked like you were slipping back to the negative mode. Body language wasn't great and you were making some errors. How did you adjust and what was going on in your mind?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: That's true. In the second set my body language was not the best. I was trying to change it in the third set, but it was not so easy because Karolina is a tough opponent. She was one break up very soon in the third set.
I just told myself, Okay, stay positive. Believe still in your game. I was thinking a little bit on the final in Australia where I was also in the third set. I believed then my game, and I did it today, as well.
So that was in my mind to stop the negative emotions and change it again in a positive way.
Q. What did work in your game today that allowed you to win a tight match like that? What do you think the difference was?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: I think first I really start really strong in the first set. I was trying to making her move.
In the second set there was just one break. I think I was just believing in myself in the third set and just going for it. I was not too much like hoping. I think that was the key at the end of the third set, that I was trying to take the chance when I was feeling, okay, now, I have the chance to go for it; just go for it until the end.
Q. I know the No. 1 ranking is a title. Was there any part of that that made you believe a little bit more today, and do you feel like the way you gutted this thing out it validated to some degree that ranking you just earned?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: Yeah, I mean, of course it's better feeling to win now my Grand Slam and being the No. 1 player in the world on Monday.
This what's happened in the last two weeks, it's just incredible. Also, how I was dealing with the pressure when I came here and everybody was asking me about the No. 1 number, actually. This was what I was trying to improving with the pressure.
And also, today, I mean, it's always tough to going in the final when I know the opponent beats me like two or three weeks ago. That was also a challenge what I told myself, Okay, I will do everything on court today to win the match against Karolina.
Q. Sports is a very concrete thing. You're always in the moment. But I have never seen a great champion talk about dreams so much. In Australia you talked about it. You said dreams come true. Very much the same sentiments today, talking about a dream. Talk about that a little bit more. Is it just beyond belief? Does it seem a little bit unreal? How important have your dreams meant to your success?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: I mean, I was always dreaming to being one day to being No. 1 and to be in the Grand Slams. I'm not 18, so I was always trying to improving my game. I knew that I have the game to beat the best players and just being patient and working really hard.
And now to see that the work pays off, this is actually the best feeling. Because I was a lot of hours on the practice courts, sweating and everything, and you are just playing for this moment to being on the center court in the final and with the amazing crowd.
So this is what I was always dreaming for. That's why I'm talking a lot about that.
Q. Does it still feel a little bit unreal to you?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: Actually, I don't know if it's unreal. I was feeling it in Australia that everything is really unreal. But right now I think I can also enjoy it. I'm really trying to take every single moment with me and all the positive emotions what I get now, and in the last few months.
Q. You spoke about a couple of the things that you have improved this year: your fitness and being more aggressive during matches. With the fitness, could you tell us a little bit about what specifically you might have changed or done differently this year? In terms of the aggressiveness in the match, was there a particular loss or a moment at some point maybe last season where either you or your coach said to you, Hey, you're losing because of this, or, To take the next step you need to change your game that way?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: First of all, with the fitness I'm really trying to playing more intense when I'm practice and not playing like maybe two, three hours just like that. I just go to court to being intense and spending a lot of hours as well on gym or like just making a lot of sprints and movement.
So this is what I change, especially in the preseason.
With aggressive, I played a lot of tough matches last year like three sets and especially here, as well, against Azarenka last year. That was also one match what I remember where I really just pushed the balls and I was not going for it.
So there were a lot of matches last year where I knew that I have to be aggressive to win it. This change also in my mind. To making the transfer is not so easy, but I think I did it well. I will try to improve this, as well, in the next steps.
Q. A lot of emotion when you sat down and you buried your face in the towel. Can you talk about that a little bit? Was it more joy or more relief?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: It was everything, I think. Because all the pressure on the last few months. I mean, to win here it's really special for me, because like I said, everything starts here for me 2011. This Grand Slam is, yeah, really, really special.
That's why, when I sit there, when I came back from my box, it was everything. I had just positive emotions. To being there like a champion this year, to hold this trophy, it's -- I don't know. I mean, I can't say it in words, actually.
Q. Did you ever wonder if you didn't have enough power or enough weapons in your game to be No. 1? Did you wonder about that and worry about it?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: No, I was always believing in myself. And like my team, as well. They are always believing in me. They are always telling me when I was also down, You are a really good player. You played tough matches against the best players in the world few years ago.
It was just the next step to beat the best players. To being consistent like I am right now, I think that was my next step after last year.
Also, when I sit down with my team and we spoke about 2016 to playing better in the majors and in the bigger tournaments and playing consistent. I'm fifth year in the top 1o, so this is what I'm doing good: being consistent but playing better in the bigger ones. This is what I changed this year. I was always believing in my weapons and about my tennis.
Q. Congratulations. Today some former No. 1 players, such as Navratilova and Arantxa Sanchez, had press conference, and they said when you are chasing for No. 1 position you don't feel much pressure. But once you became a No. 1 you feel it, because everybody wants to beat you and everybody expects you to win. I don't want to ruin this... (Laughter.) Talking about pressure...
ANGELIQUE KERBER: I think I'm ready, yeah, to have this pressure on my shoulder, because I think I get used to all of this, especially after my first Grand Slam in Australia. I had so much pressure after the title.
And to being No. 1, of course now everybody will try to beat me and have nothing to lose. I will try to take this challenge, because it will be a little bit new situation for me. But at the end, I was always practicing and working hard to being No. 1.
Now I can also taking the next step and trying to staying as long as I can there.
Q. What did you see in that Cincinnati final, reviewing video of it? What did you change tactically?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: Of course I know that Karolina is a tough opponent. She beat Serena two days ago, yesterday, and she played amazing tournament here.
So I knew she is, yeah, hitting a lot of aces during a match and I have to be ready for the very strong shots from her.
But I was trying to looking at the match yesterday as well with Torben and we watch the match a little bit. I was prepared actually for that.
I know I had to play my best tennis in the important moments. Yeah, just go for it when I have the chance. I mean, I was a little bit tired in Cincinnati, as well.
Here, I was just trying to take all my energy that I have left on this last match here.
Q. The tour is so relentless, and you'll have a number of commitments now being the US Open champion. When do you think you'll get a moment just to be on your own, actually absorb what you achieve?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: I think in the airport in the airplane. I mean, when I will sit in the airplane and have like few minutes for myself. Going back home in a few days and sitting together with my family and my friends, I think this is the moment where I can really think about everything what's happen in the last few months, few days here, and just try to, yeah, enjoy every moment then at home.
Q. I think people in general have trouble improving their confidence. It's really hard to do. Sounds like you're saying the fitness element was the most important part. Like in Australia you actually felt like a stronger person and stronger body.
ANGELIQUE KERBER: Yes. And I felt this was one of the biggest things, when you know you can run forever on court and you're not worried that you can play three sets. I think this is really important for your confidence that you can play like two, three hours and you can go for it.
I think I was working a lot on these things. This gives me a lot of confidence, especially also in Australia where it's really hot. Today the conditions are actually the same: really humid. I was trying, you know, to believe in my fitness, believing in myself, actually.
I mean, I'm here in the final. So I played really good matches in the last few days. Yeah, that gives you a lot of confidence when you know you work very hard.
Q. 12 years since winning your first junior title; turning pro, another 15 years to win your first Grand Slam final and become a Grand Slam champion. Now upon becoming No. 1 in the world and achieving your dreams, what may you tell your children one day and others about what it takes to achieve dreams and persevere?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: You know, you have to believe in your dreams. You have to go with a lot of patience. Yeah, working hard. Just have a great team around you and really love what you are doing. This is when you do everything and everything comes together one day.
I see it this year. I don't know. I think I will show a few videos my childrens in a few years, and just, yeah, I don't know, just tell them, you know, everybody -- just believe in yourself and do what you really love.
Q. I think you're the first female player, apart from Serena, to win two in a year. Winning two and being world No. 1 now, are you the rival to Serena that we have all been waiting for?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: I don't know. I mean, Serena, for me, is one of the best players in the world. She is a great person and a great champion.
So, I mean, what she did for the sport, it's just incredible. For me, I'm trying to go my own way and trying to enjoy now every single moment with my second Grand Slam. It's one of my best years, so I will just try to continue this and just trying, as well, to improving my game and my personality, as well.
Just taking the next steps in the next tournaments.
Q. You went for the forehand, big forehand down the line. Do you think last year you would have had the conviction to go for such a shot at that moment?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: I think this shot was the key for the third set. When I was going down the line I knew, Okay, now I have to risk a little bit, because this is the only chance I can get. I took it, so I think this was really the shot of the match from my serve.
Yeah, when I won the point I knew, Okay, I have the feeling. Now just to go for it and making the mistakes I make like a lot of times before. I was not thinking too much that this is a final. I was just trying to take the challenge, third set, it's 3-All, and just go for it.
Q. Seeing what you did today and all year -- we saw what Pliskova and what GarbiĆ±e did in Paris. Many new faces. Are you excited? Do you think there could be a new landscape to women's tennis?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: I'm really excited because I'm seeing as well a lot of new and good players on tour. There are a lot of, yeah, players and they are working hard. They are playing great tennis.
I think, yeah, let's see what's happen, how they will play in the next few tournaments and the next Grand Slams. I think, yeah, it's good to have so many good players on the tour.
Q. Have you heard from Steffi Graf at all? What inspiration has she given you recently? Lastly, what did you watch of her when you were a little girl?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: I watch a lot of matches, and I remember that all the matches were very fast. This is what I remember. (Smiling.)
Yeah, I mean, I heard from her yesterday or like two days ago. She was, yeah, wishing me luck for the final. Right now I don't know because my phone is somewhere, so I don't know how many messages I get now.
But, yeah, she was always my idol, and I told her so many times. She's a great champion, as well. For me it's really important to go on my own way. And to have her like in Germany with all the things she did also for the tennis, it's just amazing.
Q. Heard by text or phone?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: Text.
Q. After you won the Australian Open, you were up and down until after the French Open. Did you ever doubt or think, Oh, my gosh; maybe I took off more than I can chew? How did you pull out of that and end up with a spectacular rest of the year?
ANGELIQUE KERBER: After Australia I had a little bit up and downs, but also because a lot of things happen and change. I think I had to take the time to get used to everything.
In Paris I had so much pressure on my shoulder. I couldn't deal this with me. After Paris I was sitting down at home and I told myself, Okay, just go for it and just practicing hard again. You did it once in Australia. You have still two Grand Slams in front of you.
That was actually trying to enjoying the tennis on court again and not, yeah, making too many things too complicated. Just trying to relax, enjoy every moment on and off court, and get used to everything.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports