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First-Time Winner Spotlight Kevin Anderson

Johannesburg, South Africa

Kevin Anderson© Reg CaldecottKevin Anderson hoists his first ATP World Tour trophy at his hometown tournament.

South African Kevin Anderson celebrated his maiden ATP World Tour triumph with his friends and family at his hometown tournament, the SA Tennis Open in Johannesburg.

Final Report caught up with Anderson after he rallied for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 win over Indian Somdev Devvarman.

How does it feel to win your first ATP World Tour title in your home country?
It’s an amazing experience. Obviously just winning my first title is one thing, but doing it in front of my home fans and my country with my friends and family watching is something I’ll remember forever.

You played Somdev in the US Open last year and also in college. What was your game plan going in?
Somdev is a tricky player. He plays so well, he fights so hard, there’s never an easy point. But from the US Open I think I learned one or two things and today I just wanted to really go out there, be aggressive and play on my terms.

You played the final in Las Vegas in 2008. Did you come into this final with a different approach?
Not really. I really just tried to come out there and play my game. I think being in a final before sort of settled my nerves a little bit. Even though I was a little nervous starting out this match I was able to overcome it and I think being in that position before definitely helped me a lot.

You’re off to your career-best start this season in the first six weeks of the year. Have you done things differently from the past?
I don’t think necessarily differently as opposed to just continuing what I’ve been working on and obviously it’s the beginning of the year, but in terms of my development, it’s part of a long process so continue to work hard and hopefully I’ll be able to have more results like these.

Is there anything you did differently during the last off-season to your game.
Not really. Just learned a lot from what I wanted to improve on a little bit. It’s the same kind of things I’m trying to practice on during tournaments. I have a longer space to do it in. I think I was able to practice well and I think the results are kind of showing that.

Now that you’ve cracked the Top 50, what are your goals for the rest of this season?
My end of year goal is to finish the year in the Top 20. Obviously it’s a good start, but there’s still a lot of tennis to be played and it’s just important to recognise the accomplishment this week and build in confidence for the rest of this year.

Who are the players you admired growing up and did your pattern of game take after them?
I always looked up at Sampras and more recently Federer and Nadal, just the way them handle themselves and how great they are for the sport. It doesn’t really reflect too much on my game, although I am trying to become more aggressive, so I  guess I look at Federer and learn a lot of his patterns of play. I try and learn what I can from him.

Who’s helped you get where you are today in your career?
Definitely my family – my mom, my dad and my brother. My brother played as well. Growing up they gave so much to help me get to where I am. They’ve continued to play a really important role where I am right now. To Lui my coach, whose been working with me for about a year now, he’s been a great part. To my fiancée in Chicago, who’s really supported me and given me just a lot of backing.

With three South Africans getting to the quarter-finals this week, what do you think of the state of the game in your country?
It’s great. We have some really good players. It’s just great to give everybody an opportunity to play and sometimes that’s tough. A lot of players around the world get to play in their home country, in front of their home fans, and not to say it’s easier, but it’s definitely nice having that feeling. I think everybody was really able to capitalise on that this week.

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