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May 11, 2018

Kevin Anderson

Madrid, Spain

K. ANDERSON/D. Lajovic

7-6, 3-6, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Clay is not your favorite surface, but in Madrid, the altitude, your serve, or you play an all-around game?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah, I think so. I've said for many years, I've really enjoyed playing on the clay. Obviously the movement's a little bit tougher. But I think a lot of the surface actually suits my game nicely. The ball usually kicks up a little bit more. I think it helps my serve, gives me a little bit more time from the baseline.

So, you know, of course I'd say hard court is my favorite surface. I've always felt pretty comfortable on the clay. I think especially here in Madrid with a little bit of altitude, the ball really goes through the court a lot. I don't think it's as noticeable just on center court because it's so big, so people can return from further back, whereas if you go to the outside courts, where the fence is a little bit closer, you really see the difference. I mean, even times it's faster than a hard court.

I felt I did a lot of good preparations coming into the clay court season, had a good few weeks training on the red clay in Florida. It was a tough match for me in Estoril. On the positive side, I was able to get a match. I've been able to play I think three very high-quality matches here in Madrid so far.

Q. Is it fair to say that the 11th time was the charm today?

Q. How much does that affect you going into that match knowing you were 0-10?
KEVIN ANDERSON: I must be honest, I think I did a good job then because I didn't really think of it too much. I had lots of reason to think about it. Indian Wells and Miami, not that long ago. Two 7-6s in the third. To fall a bit short, match points against Carreno Busta in Miami.

Of course, I knew the opportunity existed today. I thought first step was putting myself in that position. I was able to do that. Going out there today, I just really focused on what I needed to do. Thinking too much about previous results is not going to do me too much good, outside of the fact that, sure, there was motivation to get through. I really wanted to break through and be in the semifinals. It was a goal that I set myself.

By no means that means that I'm done. It definitely feels good. It was a mini goal accomplished for me today.

Q. You said you had good preparation coming into the clay season. Anything you've done differently this season compared to previous seasons?
KEVIN ANDERSON: I don't think specifically too much for the clay. I think it's the same approach I've been taking for all surfaces. Of course, there's maybe one or two adjustments you make on the clay, specifically for the movement.

For the most part I worked really hard on many aspects of my game: trying to impose myself more, have more trust in my game. I've worked really hard on the mental side of my game. Whether it was on the hard courts so far this year or coming onto the clay, I feel like it's been a constant theme for me.

It's not maybe specifically to the clay. I think it's a general approach.

Q. In case you play against Nadal, what do you think can be your chances to beat him?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah, I mean, if he does win... Of course, I don't want to say too soon because he's playing against a very good player in Dominic Thiem. I think they were the best two clay-courters last year. Obviously Nadal has even stepped it up again, if that's possible, breaking that record and everything like that.

If I do play Nadal, I mean, obviously I'm going to have my work cut out for me. I'm playing the greatest clay-courter of all time who is playing some of his best tennis on the clay as well. It's not going to be easy.

I'm really going to have to trust my game as much as possible. I'm going to have to be aggressive and dictate play. You have to believe. It's not easy when you're up against him with all his records, especially on the clay courts. But I've played him a few times. I haven't beaten him. I'm very motivated to try to give myself the chance.

Right now we'll just have to wait and see. I think it will be a great match either way. For me it's about recovering from today and just being as fresh as possible for tomorrow.

Q. Is maybe the most difficult goal for a tennis player on clay to beat him?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Yeah, I mean, on any surface it's difficult to beat him. But on clay, I mean, his record is even better. Just the way he moves, his game is so well-suited for the clay. He's such a great competitor.

I think a lot of the times, you know, opponents just fall away a little bit because he keeps his level so high. You really have to try to match him just from the mental and physical standpoint, which isn't easy. That's why he has such good records, especially in the three-out-of-five sets on the clay.

If I do play him, it will be I would say a great challenge, one I'd really look forward to.

Q. You have also a foundation, and you're helping children all around the world. Apart from that, your opinion of Dominic Thiem.
KEVIN ANDERSON: Obviously two different questions (smiling).

I've played Dominic quite a few times now. I've got a great record against him. A lot of those matches have been really close. I've saved match points against him before. It could have easily been a little bit different. I haven't played him on the clay before, which is his favorite surface.

No matter who I play tomorrow, right now I'm just really pleased to be through to my first semifinals. I'm going to enjoy that moment for now. Then it's getting prepared for tomorrow. I really want to go out and put myself through to the finals, not just stop short at the semifinals.

In terms of some foundation work, especially when I'm back in South Africa, I spend as much time as I can. I do a lot of talks at schools, especially the school I went to. I find that very important. Of course, just got involved with a school in Florida where I live now. I recently gave a talk to them. It's something I've enjoyed doing.

In terms of charity work itself, my wife and I are very passionate about rescuing dogs. We have an adopted dog ourselves. We've done quite a few fundraising for one of our local shelters.

Q. I think two years ago you came back here after a three- or four-month injury layoff. Almost dropped out of the top 40. Over the past 24 months, was it ever in your mind you could be firmly lodged inside the top 10, have a Grand Slam final in your bag?
KEVIN ANDERSON: Definitely. I think during that time, 2016, where definitely I had a few injuries. I remember coming here, and it was already off the back of missing Indian Wells and Miami. I remember coming here not just really prepared yet. I had to really just fight through just to be able to take to the court here, Rome and French Open. Didn't have great results.

That period of time was definitely difficult. But I've always had a lot of belief in myself. I have a great team surrounding me. I think they really provided me with a lot of motivation and a lot of support. Even this time a year ago I was in qualifying here. I wasn't able to come to the tournament because I was still playing in Estoril. I actually skipped Madrid last year.

Skip forward a year later, being ranked top 40, being through to the semifinals here, makes me proud about my accomplishments. I feel, what I've been saying for a while, very motivated. I feel like my best tennis, I'm playing it right now. I still feel there's so much for me to play for.

Looking back, it's a lesson. I always try to learn from it. 2016, one of the lessons is managing my body a little bit better, certain decisions in terms of playing tournaments. I've always said if you can learn from those tough times, I think you'll definitely come out the better for it. So far I've been able to do that.

Q. You talked about playing Thiem or Nadal. Having in mind winning Madrid for the first time, honestly who would you prefer?
KEVIN ANDERSON: I mean, if I had to choose, I'd have to take Dominic (smiling). That's crazy because he's a great player. In terms of the records and the numbers, obviously Nadal has proven himself for over a decade now. I think Dominic would say that, as well. Rafa's probably the favorite tonight. He's a great player.

If I had to choose... Either way it's going to be a tough match. As I said last year I think they were the top two players in the world. Dominic is very difficult on the clay. I'm going to have to play some of my best tennis to give myself a good chance tomorrow.

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