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September 10, 2017

Kevin Anderson

New York, NY, USA

R. NADAL/K. Anderson

6-3, 6-3, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Obviously the loss is fresh. I'm sure it hurts. The fact that you played in a Grand Slam final, you said on the court, he's a contemporary of yours, playing with Rafa, arguably playing the best tennis of his career. What does that experience mean to you?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah, it's definitely a few emotions and experiences I'm going to take from this whole two weeks. I mean, obviously very pleased of making my way through to the finals and having that experience.

I mean, a few players, you know, get that chance. It's very tough. To step out on court against Rafa tonight, you know, I learned a lot of lessons. It was a difficult match, up against somebody who has been on that stage over 20 times before.

You know, definitely a few things I needed to have done better. Obviously I had my work cut out for me, but I think overall, obviously it's been, you know, a very, very positive two weeks for me.

Q. The way Rafa played tonight and what's happened this year, talk about the Federer/Nadal rivalry being rekindled. What do you feel of him catching Roger?
KEVIN ANDERSON: I mean, it's very close right now. I mean, obviously staying healthy would be the biggest obstacle to that. Roger is obviously a few years older than him, but he's had an amazing year, two Grand Slam titles this year.

I mean, I've always said he's one of the obviously greatest players of our sport, obviously feeling very confident. He seems to have turned around a lot of those injuries he's experienced the last couple of years. I guess time will tell on that.

Q. Did you have fun tonight?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah, I mean, you go into the match, you know, and a lot of talk about enjoying the experience and stuff, but at the same time, I went there with the expectation that I had a job to do. You know, it was obviously very tough, but it was definitely a part of that, a few moments that were pretty special being out there in that moment.

I think more when I sort of reflect back in the next little while, take a little bit of a break, I think, a lot of the good memories will definitely surface.

You know, I viewed it -- I definitely felt I was playing good enough tennis to give myself a chance tonight. It didn't work out that way, up against a very tough opponent.

Yeah, it's a bit of both. It's a tough loss, but I think there was -- you know, it was obviously a great experience being out there and competing at the finals of a Grand Slam.

Q. There seems to be such kind of a bond between people who have won championships from your country. A lot of them here watching you. How do you explain that? What would it mean for you to some day be on that list?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah, it would be great. South Africa is a very pro-sporting country. It's been overwhelming, the amount of support I have received across so many different sporting codes, these last few days especially.

I have gotten to know some of the golfers closer. We live quite close to each other in Florida. We have a lot of major champions on the golfing side, not quite as many as the tennis side. So I'd love to build on these two weeks. Obviously it was very difficult, but I was able to find my way all the way in the finals. I'd love to -- well, I'd love to, I mean, work very hard to hopefully give myself another opportunity.

Q. We have this extraordinary situation in our sport where now that all the Grand Slam dust is settled, look who has won the four Grand Slams and they were all injured last year. Could you just talk about what makes these two champions, Roger and Rafa, so special? Can you compare them a little bit, please.
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah. I mean, you know, two guys who play very different styles of tennis. You know, very different skill sets. After them taking off most of last year to come back and win all four Grand Slams was, you know, quite an achievement, regardless of how good they are. There is a lot of very tough competition that have come through.

You know, just the fact that when they're healthy, I think they have so many skills they can rely on. In addition to that is just the amount of experience they have had. Playing at this level, you know, I think they feel very comfortable, and obviously they might get nervous, but just, you know, like anything, the more you do it, the more used to it you get.

They have played each other so many times. You know, looking at Rafa, just such a great competitor. You know, he really makes you earn every single point. Roger, also. You know, he can really take matches out of your hands. So it's been a very interesting year on the Grand Slam front. Certainly will be very interesting to see what happens next year, as well.

Q. On that same note, with those two guys, what they have done, and the presumed returns of the guys who were out with injury for this tournament, what do you foresee for 2018 in terms of balance and for Federer and Nadal, in particular?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah, it will be very interesting. I think this year there has been a lot of guys stepping up and, you know, attaining results that haven't been in the past. I think you can take a lot of confidence, you know, in those successes.

I think there is a lot of new players that will, I think, feel more comfortable in certain situations next year, and, you know, we have had a few, some of the top players who have taken the rest of the year off and a couple others who have been injured quite a lot, and I expect them to be healthy and ready to go in a similar fashion that, you know, Rafa and Roger were this year. It will be -- I think it will be very interesting next year.

Q. Well done. A really good tournament. Likely to move up to 15 in the world now. You were 10 in October of 2015. Is that the target now to get back inside the Top 10 and use this as a springboard?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah, the target of getting back to 10 is something I set myself a little while ago. Got off to a bit of a tough start beginning of the year, but especially this summer I have really put myself in a good position.

You know, I have always -- again, I feel like when I'm taking care of the stuff I need to, the ranking will take care of itself. It's great to sit back at the end of the week and see, you know, the jump that I have made and the spots I have been able to climb, something I can be very proud of.

You know, when I play my next tournament, it will be, you know, back at sort of square one in that sense. Everyone will be very determined, you know, whoever I'm playing in that match, and regardless of what happened these two weeks, I can take confidence. But I'm really going to have to, you know, reset and, you know, would love to have obviously a very strong finish to the year. I think maybe missing the beginning of the year has set me up well in terms of freshness.

Q. You have one of your many weapons, your big serve. Do you feel Rafa was able to adjust to that? Do you feel like that was to your advantage to have that?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah. I mean, Rafa made it very difficult for me tonight. I felt he got a lot of returns back. He varied his return position quite a lot. You know, one of the best defenders in our sport.

I felt while I was getting a few free points, definitely less than normal, which I expected, I think it was really important that ball after the serve, and there was a lot of times I executed it well but there were a few times I didn't, and that ended up costing me quite a bit against him.

I felt he served really well. I sort of struggled a little bit adapting to the left-handed serve, and, you know, didn't even get a break point throughout the whole match. It was definitely difficult, and I think he had a pretty good read on my serve, and he was getting my serve games and he was holding quite comfortably.

Q. Do you feel like you got to play the way you wanted to throughout tournament?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah, I mean, just briefly reflecting, you know, I think the nerves that I was maybe going to feel, you know, I felt pretty good out there. I thought I was hitting the ball very well. It was more the conundrum of playing Rafa as opposed to being in my first final.

I think there are a few positive steps I can take from that, that I was able to settle and at least give myself a chance. I think there are a few lessons I learned again against him that I needed to do differently if I play him again. I needed to execute them a bit better. All things considered, I felt I settled down very quickly.

Q. Were you distracted at all this morning, maybe watching the hurricane reports with your house?
KEVIN ANDERSON: No, I mean, obviously it's very tough to see what's going on. As Rafa very eloquently put it, thoughts go out to everybody who is affected. Obviously stay safe.

You know, just try to have the mindset it's sort of out of our control, and, you know, just really try to focus as much as I could, you know, throughout the day. I've got a lot of very close people with me, and I think that was what made it easier.

Q. Could you elaborate and tell us more what you said on court earlier, that Rafa was one of your idols, even though you were the same age?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah, I mean, he had such great success at a very young age. At 16, 17, he was winning ATP matches. 19, he was winning the French Open. You know, it definitely took me a little bit longer to make that adjustment into the pro ranks. As a junior and then my college days, you know, watching pro tennis, he was, you know, one of the top few, top two players in the world with Roger.

Yeah, I mean, I admire a lot of the way he plays, have always enjoyed watching him play. It took me a little bit of time to adjust playing him at the pro level. I feel like that's sort of behind me. I have a lot of respect for him as a tennis player. He's a hell of a competitor. He's one of the best who have played our sport. He's beaten me a few times in a row now. I'd like to get another shot against him.

Q. You put yourself in contention for the race to London now, as well. What would that mean to you to qualify for that event?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah, it would be great. That definitely wasn't on my radar sort of in March/April this year after missing the beginning and sort of struggling to find my form on the match court. You know, I felt it was right there. My body was healthy. I spent a lot of time on my physical, you know, conditioning, and I was hitting the ball great. Just needed to find that, as I said, form on the match court. I feel like I have really done that.

Looking back at the summer, I have had some really good results. I've put myself in contention. There was a few other guys also in contention. As I was saying earlier, it will be a fight to the finish, but I missed out on it by a couple of spots a couple years ago, so I think that would definitely be one of my, you know, biggest goals for the rest of the year.

Q. This new-found show of emotion you have given us, is that your true personality coming through, or is that something that you're fighting yourself to do?
KEVIN ANDERSON: I think in the beginning it was, you know, fighting a little bit, but as I have played more and more matches, it feels very comfortable. I think, you know, speaking with my team, it seems like, you know, I'm sort of -- it looks very natural and feels, you know, comfortable. So maybe it is a bit more natural for me now.

You know, when I'm going out there now, it doesn't feel as forced. I'm not thinking about it as much. Tennis is very mental, and I have definitely proved myself that it's something I can rely on. I feel like I have always been a tough competitor. I have always fought. This is just adding an element. Something I will definitely be continuing with.

Q. If you were asked or if you had to narrow it down to just one or two things that make Rafa Nadal so tough as a tennis player, what would you say, one or two things?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Definitely the first one, as I said quite a few times, is his competitiveness, consistency at that level. He never goes away. You know, I have seen so many times where he's maybe down a break and he's able to play every single point at such a high intensity.

A lot of guys sometimes, you know, you might see them get angry at a line call and suddenly they start playing better tennis. I have never seen him -- some external factor and suddenly he's bringing better tennis. He brings that high energy every single point. I think that's probably one of the biggest ones.

It goes without saying his ground strokes, his movements, defensive skills, it all comes together. I think he blended that very well tonight against me. He was, you know, played a lot of defense when he needed to. Any time you leave a ball hanging for him, he's really able to take advantage of it.

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