Kevin Anderson’s seventh career title at the Hall of Fame Open on Sunday marked a couple of significant firsts in the 35-year-old’s road back from knee surgery. The South African’s 7-6 (8), 6-4 victory over 20-year-old American Jenson Brooksby was his first ATP Tour title since Pune in January 2019 and the first in front of both wife Kelsey and daughter Keira.
The result lifted the former World No. 5 back into the Top 100 of the FedEx ATP Rankings. Anderson spoke with ATPTour.com following his triumph.
Your daughter Keira was there to see you win. How much do you appreciate those moments? Did it hit you when you looked over and saw Kelsey and Keira?
Yeah, obviously during the match I was very focused and trying to get the job done. It’s been a bit of a process for me, and the whole team. I think you need to cherish these moments and then this morning Kelsey said she was in touch with our nanny and was going to bring Keira win or lose. I said ‘Well it’d be much nicer if I can get the win and see her’.
It’s the first time I celebrated a title both with Kelsey and our daughter so it was very memorable. She was more interested in running on the grass and posing for pictures. Hopefully this is the first of still many to come.
You’re very open about the problems you’ve had over the years, but you’re always relentlessly positive about it. How are you able to keep that mindset?
It’s sometimes challenging behind the scenes. In the last several weeks it’s been a bit of a bumpy road and there’s been times where I’ve needed to draw on my team and my family to give me support and belief, and knowing that I’m not done. There’s still a lot I want to accomplish.
Obviously having weeks like this where you get the title definitely gives you more confidence and it reinvigorates you. Even without the title I feel like since Wimbledon I’ve steadied the ship a little bit.
I was confident coming into this week. There’s always going to be hiccups. I just have to come to terms that sometimes things are just out of your control.
Was there a moment around Wimbledon that something clicked for you? Was it something in your game or off-court?
I think it was actually the week before, going into Wimbledon. I’d had a few tough weeks, a couple of Challengers, lost in qualifying, I was hitting the ball well in practice, just not finding that level in matches.
Even parts of the matches I was playing really well, just not consistent enough. I fell short of what our goal was [at Wimbledon] so that was tough but I felt it was still a step forward. Coming to Newport we came with the expectation of winning the tournament. I had to fight hard but I feel like I was able to take some good steps here.
You were Top 10, Top 5 before you got injured and said you wanted to win a Grand Slam. Is that still on the radar?
Yeah it is. I feel like my biggest goal is to win a Grand Slam and win a Masters 1000 series. I mean I’ve come close a couple of times but have come up against pretty tough opponents, but those are the guys you have to beat.
I was knocking on the door, Top 5 in the world but in the last while my ranking has dropped and I’m a different player now. I still have a lot of belief in myself but you have to understand that it’s a different pathway. I feel like I’m much closer to that, it’s a journey to where I want to get to but one I’m very excited about.
You mentioned you are a different player. How do you adjust mentally to that, having played two Grand Slam finals, to shift your mindset?
A couple of years ago I’m coming into tournaments, Grand Slams, anything less than quarter-finals is a disappointment. A lot of the time I’m coming into tournaments with the goal of winning and I mean it’s still like that now but I think after the injuries I feel like I was missing those in-between goals – winning a couple of rounds at a Grand Slam – those smaller steps that before I wasn’t exactly looking for.
Maybe that’s when I realised those are the steps I need to take now. I think I’ve recalibrated a bit but incredibly hopeful from where my game’s at, where my abilities are and ultimately my goal is to still win the biggest titles in our sport.