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September 8, 2017
New York, NY, USA
K. ANDERSON/P. Carreno Busta
4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Kevin Curren was the last South African to reach a major final of a Grand Slam. He was famous for saying they should drop an A-bomb on the US Open because he didn't like the smell of the place. I'm guessing you don't feel that way?
KEVIN ANDERSON: No, I don't. Definitely amazing feeling being in this position and have worked very hard to get here. It feels great to be in the stage I'm in.
More important, have given myself a shot at being in the finals and, you know, I will be playing for a Grand Slam trophy. That's an amazing feeling. I have to get ready. Still obviously a very difficult match ahead of me, but I think right now I'm just trying to unwind a little bit and just enjoy sort of today's match.
Q. Over the last couple of years you have been beset by injuries all over your body, basically. Could you even have imagined you'd be in this position right now?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah, last year was quite tricky for me. A lot of stopping and starting. It was very frustrating, because I didn't have necessary injuries that -- I mean, there were a couple that definitely forced me away from the tour but there were a few that were constantly nagging injuries and constantly not allowing me to play the tennis I needed to be playing. One thing sort of led to another. I had a bit of that.
Towards the end of the year, my hip really played up, and that was probably the most severe injury. Seemed like surgery was maybe even on the table. Fortunate to have escaped that whole thing. It was tough not being able to go down to Australia beginning of the year.
And then even starting this year I felt I was in very good shape. I had worked very hard. I was hitting the ball great but just wasn't really finding that form out on the match court.
I feel like in the last while, definitely things have turned around. I think it started on the clay court, getting more matches under my belt. You know, I just feel like I have been constantly taking steps in the right direction.
You know, coming into this week, I was just taking it one match at a time. I didn't think too far ahead. I mean obviously I love to be in this position. I felt deep inside I always had a chance, but, I mean, I feel like you sort of put that at bay and focus on each match. That's what I have done. Here I am, almost two weeks later in the final, so that's obviously a great feeling.
Q. What are your thoughts and your emotions about the opportunity you have in front of you now?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah. I mean, as I was saying, still pretty emotional about today's match. As you have said, I have to, you know, start preparing for my next match very quickly, because it's going to be a very tough match, up against both guys who are Grand Slam champions and who have been on this stage before, been on this court in the finals on a Sunday. It's obviously new for me.
But I think what I have been doing very well is sort of trying to put all those outside factors at bay. I have been really focused on trying to take care of my business, my side of the court. I feel like it's been working well for me, so I'm not going to do anything much different. Same sort of things, recovering tomorrow. You know, it was quite physical, tonight's match. I have to be 100% for my next match, but my body is healthy. Just a little fatigued.
Obviously recovery, and then, yeah, I'm going to treat it like each match I have throughout these two weeks. At least that's what I'm going to try to do.
Q. We don't know which one of the two players will be your opponent, but can you take each one separately and describe the challenge and the strategic concerns you have against each?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah, sure. I have played both guys a few times. You know, Nadal's, I think, one of the greatest competitors in sports, period. He's an amazing fighter. You know, he really controls the court well, you know, the few times I have played him.
I really need to be dominant and control proceedings as much as possible, because if you let him do it, it's very difficult.
You know, Juan, on the other side, different player. You know, his serve, he's been serving very well, it looks like. He has a huge forehand. People have looked at his backhand since his injuries and stuff, but, you know, I think he's done an amazing job.
In some ways, I think it's actually helped his game, because I played him earlier this year in Delray Beach, and while it's maybe not as powerful as before, I think it's just as consistent.
He doesn't give you too much pace to work with. I think it gives him a bit more time to look to use his forehand a little bit. He's hitting more slices. He's throwing in some more variety. So he obviously is, you know, a very, very tough competitor.
As I said earlier, both guys have won this tournament before, so they will be a bit more experienced. I'm just going to have to, as I said, just take care of my side of the court.
Q. Obviously very high quality tennis. Can you comment on that?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yep.
Q. Your ability to prevail out there on Arthur Ashe Stadium, and just the level of confidence.
KEVIN ANDERSON: I thought the beginning of the match, I felt a little bit nervous. You know, I have to say I felt my shots weren't as penetrating as I wanted them to be. I felt like I let him control the court quite well.
But even after the end of the first set, I realized, while I hadn't made too many inroads on his serve games, I played a few points that those were the kind of points that I was looking to play. That one serve game that I got broke in the first, I made a couple of errors. I knew if I sort of tidied that up on my side, I was right in the match.
I definitely felt as the match progressed, I felt more and more comfortable. I was able to go after my shots more. I was able to control the court a bit more, not let him dictate so much. Definitely started making a lot more returns.
Even though there was only one break in the fourth, I had a couple long serve games, you know, when he was serving and I could maybe sneak that double break.
I knew it was a tough match going in. Pablo has had a great year. We played each other a few weeks ago in Montreal. He's so consistent from the baseline. He doesn't give you a whole lot.
He's coming into the match with a lot of confidence. I knew from my side, it was really important to try and control the court as much as possible. And I thought I was able to do that well, especially as the match went on.
Q. You've done a lot of hard work to obtain the opportunity to walk out onto Arthur Ashe Stadium. What are your thoughts on emotions out there?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah, you know, as I was saying earlier, right now it's taking care of everything I can in this moment. I will come out tomorrow and do our usual recovery. I'm sure there will be different emotions that I have experienced when I walk out onto the court on Sunday. But it will be very important for me as quickly as possible to really try, as much as I can, to block that out.
I'm sure I will have to deal with a couple of things. I feel like the routines I have on the court are designed for that. Any match you face, you know, you can be nervous. It's just a larger scale. I will have to rely on those even more.
I'm looking forward to the opportunity. I have worked really hard to get here. It's great I have given myself a spot. I will be very excited come Sunday.
Q. You just scored this wonderful triumph on Ashe Stadium. Arthur had a tremendous interest in your home country, worked very hard for change there, and in the same way, President Mandela had an interest in tennis. Can you talk about those two aspects?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah. You know, coming from a country that loves tennis, actually, there are a lot of people who play. We definitely face a lot of challenges when it comes to producing tennis players.
When I'm back, there is a lot of interest. From my side, you know, obviously you're talking about two very, very influential people.
You know, my hope, and I have said this all along, my biggest hope is I'm able to inspire the kids to get out and play, because it can definitely feel like it's a long road being so far from everything.
But I was definitely in that same position back then. You can keep, you know, working hard. I feel like when I'm back, I often speak at several schools, the school that I went to, I'm often giving talks and talking about that sort of stuff. As much as I can, I try and have an impact.
I try and focus on the youth coming up, and I think tennis is a great sport regardless of how far you make it, just obviously a lot of good life lessons.
Q. Tennis is a very mental game. Yet some pros hesitate to talk about all the mental work that they do. Could you talk about how that's really helped your game and the process there?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah. You know, a lot of -- I think everybody, at this level, there is a huge component that's just on the mental side. I feel like if you watch guys practicing, everybody looks, you know, amazing.
When you're getting out there, it's really just a couple of points here and there. The more mental strength you have, the better. If you look at some of the best players that we have seen over the years and that I have been playing with, mentally they are the best competitors, as well, something I have worked hard on.
My coaches and my whole team is, you know, constantly pushing me in that regard. I feel like I have always been a great competitor.
I feel like for me, some of the challenges have been to, I think, trust my ability a little bit more. I have always been very critical about myself. I feel like I'm just being a bit more patient with myself. I feel like that's been a big change I have implemented in the last few months.
Looking forward, all the stuff that I'm doing very well, I have worked very hard to, you know, when I'm out there, to hit a lot of good shots, and I definitely try and focus a bit more on the positive stuff now.
Q. I know you said a match at a time, but being in the bottom half of the draw and winning each round, what were some things you were telling yourself you could do for something like this and (indiscernible)?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah, you know, I always -- I don't look too far ahead in the draw, and I really didn't know who I was playing until literally I finished my previous match. Up until when I played Paolo Lorenzi, I knew the winner of us would play the winner of Sam and Mischa.
If you, press or whatever, you might hear that. I definitely heard that the bottom half, a lot of the top guys who we saw accustomed to doing very well weren't there. I guess of course I knew in my mind there was opportunity there, but I must be honest, I didn't focus really too much on that.
You know, I think I sort of heard early on that Sascha Zverev was in my section. Obviously had two tough matches with him. Borna played a good match against him and I was able to play a good match against Borna. I have been saying this for a few days.
We are sort of accustomed to the few guys doing well, exceptional consistency. It's tough beating those guys because they have had so much experience at this level.
Even with them out, there have still been a lot of challenges I've had to face throughout this week. I have faced some of the best tennis players in the world. I mean, it's different faces. It's new experiences for both of us. Fortunately, I was able to come through.
Q. You have gotten a lot of attention for the fist pumping. Could you just talk a little bit about whether it changes what you're feeling during the match?
KEVIN ANDERSON: I don't know. Yeah, I was asked a few times. You know, I feel like it allows me to play better tennis. That's something I have always been looking, you know, at any edge I can get.
Everybody talks about how important the mental side is, so the faster you can reset after a point that maybe hasn't gone your way, maybe a missed opportunity, definitely the better.
When you've played a good point and sort of acknowledging that also has a lot of positive, you know, effect that increases your confidence level.
So, you know, I think at first it took me a little bit of while, but as I have been playing more and more matches, it feels more and more comfortable.
I'm not sort of too aware of it right now. I feel like I'm putting more out there and I feel like it allows me to play better tennis, and it's something I am definitely going to look to continue.
Q. Can you talk a bit more about your hip injury?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah, it was diagnosed as a labrum tear. I spoke to several doctors. It's a tricky injury. If anybody has labrum issues, they'd like to talk to me about it, feel free. I learned a lot about it.
It's tricky. You know, I just have the approach, and after speaking to a lot of people who had similar issues, surgery is always a last resort. I was fortunate enough to be acquainted with some very good physios who thought I could beat it without getting surgery.
It took a lot of work. I mean, several hours a day over, you know, almost two months. Even after that, another couple months of rehab. I feel like obviously the biggest plus is when, you know, all the work you do really pays off, where a surgery just becomes a whole different ball game. It's something I was fortunate to avoid.
Q. You come from a very proud sporting country, like Charl Schwartzel and Louis, what does it mean to you to have that kind of support from major champions in their own sport?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah, it's been great. Just being on the road a lot, I know there are so many great South African sportsmen, I haven't been able to mix with too many. There have been times I was with the South African rugby team a few years ago, but up until the last couple of years -- a lot of the golfers from South Africa live close to us. I have spent time with Ernie Els who has had a lot of success. I met Louis and Charl as well. It was great having them out. They have all won majors in golf.
I'm trying really hard to be able to join their ranks. It was really nice that they came out and watched me play today.
Q. I understand that you live in Florida, and I'm wondering if you have had concerns about the hurricane that's getting there, whether you have family there that you might be concerned with at this point?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah, there's not much we can do at this point. My wife is with me. We locked up, and sort of hoping for the best. I think it's on everybody's mind a lot and wishing everybody really to stay safe.
Q. That '85 Wimbledon before you were born is one of the most famous one. Curren was the first player to ever beat McEnroe and Connors in the same Slam. I was wondering, as a kid, was that a presence in your life in terms of people talking about it a lot?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Definitely knew about it, and I think for me my biggest idol was Pete Sampras growing up Obviously, he was from the U.S. And right behind him, watching Wayne Ferreira growing up, that was more sort of in my teenage years. From a South African standpoint, he was definitely somebody I looked up to a little bit more.
I mean, I have met Kevin several times. It was a little young for me in terms of watching too much of his playing.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports