- SA duo up for prestigious world awards
- SA youngsters aim for a repeat of 2014
- Health issues as South Africa play catch-up in India
- Team SA head off to Angola on Region 5 Games mission
- Mthembu puts SA back on podium… after 23 years!
- Reverse strategy puts Waschefort in front
- Debut Hawaii win for Jordy Smith
- Blitzboks skipper calls for improvement on home soil
- Runaway Test win for South Africa in India
- Olympian Stone pounces at Leopard Creek
Kevin on his great 2011
- Updated: November 25, 2011
By Mark Etheridge
Kevin Anderson’s dream 2011 has come to an end and he is taking a well-earned break back in the United States. The top-ranked South African singles player took time out to look back at his year and then look forward to what lies ahead both on and off court. Here he shares his thoughts with Road to London 2012.
You ended 2010 ranked the world’s 61st best sIngles player. I know one of your goals was to make Top 20 by the end of 2011 but had you been told you would have moved up as high as 29th towards the end of 2011 would you have been at all surprised?
“I would have been happy, but I don’t feel I would have been too surprised. I knew that I was capable of reaching top 20, which is why I set it as a tough but achievable goal. I fell a little short of top 20 for the year but I felt I made some good improvements and am closer to my goals.”
Having moved up to 33 after your season ended what are your goals in terms of rankings for the year of 2012?
“My end of year ranking goal for 2012 is top 15.”
What would you say were the main reasons for your great improvement during the year, was it a general all-round improvement or could you put a finger on any specific area?
“I think there are a few factors that contributed to my improvements, working hard every day to improve played a big part, having more confidence in playing with the best tennis players in the world, and all-around improvement both physically and mentally.”
Will your training/match schedule for 2012 change much or do you think you’ve hit the right formula now?
“I will look to play fewer tournaments in 2012. I am going to look to have more off weeks both to maintain my health, and to use that time to improve.”
Tell us just how much winning your first WTA tournament [in Johannesburg] meant to you.. both in confidence and in not having to play as many qualifying tournaments?
“Winning Johannesburg was a great experience for me. Winning my first ATP tournament and doing so in my home city made it extra special. It was great having friends and family coming to watch me all week. It was a fantastic tournament and it is a real pity that it was the last year of the tournament.”
What was the match you enjoyed most this year?
“I would have to say the finals of the Johannesburg. It was a big occasion and playing at home was so much fun.”
Of all the players you played during the year, who gave you the most problems, no matter how high or low they were ranked?
“I lost to Novak Djokovic the most this year, playing him three times. Obviously he had one of the best tennis years in history, but it was still tough losing to him.”
In terms of injuries, what injury setbacks did you have this year .. you did play 29 tournaments this year, was that pretty much the same as last year?
“I had a few niggles throughout the year which is normal. I did suffer two pretty big injuries. The first was a twisted ankle two weeks before the French Open. The next one was a left knee injury that plagued me throughout the summer which hindered me playing Davis Cup as well.”
After your exit from the BNP Paribas Masters you were ranked fourth on the list of most aces on all surfaces for 2011 with 693. Your current doubles partner John Isner has the most… what’s he like to play with and where do you see the combination going from here?
“I enjoyed playing with John. He has had another great year, and his serve is probably the best in the game. He usually plays with Sam Querrey who has been hurt but is playing again, so I suspect they will look to continue in the new year.”
With the Olympics coming up next year.. you clearly have hopes of representing SA?
“It was an amazing experience being in Beijing in 2008, and I am sure London next year will be equally good. It is a little time away but it would be incredibly exciting to represent South Africa again there.”
Of the rising stars coming through the ranks who has impressed you the most this year?
“I would have to say Milos Raonic has has an incredible year, and he was injured throughout the whole summer. Its always interesting to see how a player responds the second year after having success, but I am sure he will continue to improve.
And South African tennis right now, what’s your take… are there enough guys coming through to keep the sport in the spotlight like you are doing now?
“There are just a handful of south Africans in the top 500 currently. And most of us are 25 or older. There is a definitely a pretty big gap at the moment. We definitely need more players in the top ranks of tennis, to help put South African tennis back in the spotlight. We need to get more juniors exposed to International tennis and from an earlier age.”
What are your plans for your break? Are you coming back to Johannesburg for a few weeks or are you going on holiday anywhere special?
“I am getting married on 26 November in Chicago. So that will be something different and something really exciting. We are going on honeymoon in St Lucia and then I will spend two weeks in Florida training for next year.”
I gathered you have a rather special day coming up in the next few weeks. Tell us a bit more about that and also some more about the young lady who is going to make that day so special?
“As I mentioned the big day is on the 26th in Chicago. My fiancee’s name is Kelsey O’Neal. We met in college at the University of Illinois in my freshman year. She is a CPA working for Ernst & Young. Her family lives in Chicago. It’s going to be a very special day and one that I am really looking forward to!”
See also the Media Column on the right hand side of Road to London 2012’s home page