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"Rafael Nadal has been somebody who has motivated me to keep working hard" - Kevin Anderson

Rafael Nadal with the 2020 French Open trophy
Rafael Nadal with the 2020 French Open trophy
Modified 11 Nov 2020, 22:52 IST

Former World No. 5 Kevin Anderson recently talked about how players like Rafael Nadal and Pete Sampras have motivated him as he has progressed through his career.

At 34, Anderson is the same age as Rafael Nadal. But the South African turned professional in 2007, a whole six years after Nadal.

Speaking on a podcast with MatchPoint Canada, Anderson claimed that he was inspired by Rafael Nadal when he burst on to the scene as a teenager, but has now adjusted to seeing him as a competitor.

"Rafael Nadal has been somebody who has motivated me to keep working hard. He was having amazing success at 16/ 17 and I turned pro a few years later. It's a bit of an adjustment for me going from watching him to being a competitor. He has been a pretty standout player, not only in our generation. But he will go down as one of the best in the history of the sport," Anderson said.

Anderson named 14-time Grand Slam winner Pete Sampras as one of his idols growing up, while also stating that he enjoyed watching another Spaniard - Juan Carlos Ferrero - play as well.

US Open final against Rafael Nadal and Wimbledon final against Novak Djokovic were very special: Kevin Anderson

On the podcast, Anderson was asked to choose the best moments of his career. In response, the South African first mentioned the two Grand Slam finals that he reached, in both of which he faced a member of the Big 3.

Anderson made the 2017 US Open final where he lost to Rafael Nadal, and the 2018 Wimbledon final - where he fell to Novak Djokovic.

Kevin Anderson and Rafael Nadal at the 2017 US Open
Kevin Anderson and Rafael Nadal at the 2017 US Open

But the 34-year-old went on to admit that if he were pushed to choose one specific memory, he would pick either his win over Roger Federer at Wimbledon 2018 or the marathon against John Isner (at the same tournament).

"The Slam finals were very special. But if I was pressed to choose one specific match, it would be at Wimbledon - either beating Roger Federer at Wimbledon or the really long match against John Isner in the semis was a pretty great memory for me," Anderson said.

Anderson, who is also the President of the ATP Player Council, expressed his excitement about the future of tennis - especially with Dominic Thiem winning the US Open and several other youngsters challenging for the big titles.

"The new generation is coming up and really establishing themselves. We saw Dominic Thiem break through at the US Open. He is younger, (although) I wouldn't say he is a young player. But there is an exciting batch of younger players. There is a pretty interesting balance now between the young group of players and those who have been on the tour for a number of years," Anderson said.

Anderson is now ranked No. 79 in the world, having undergoing knee surgery last summer - which required another procedure in early 2020 as well.

After posting a 10-10 record on the ATP tour this season, the South African plans to play a full schedule in 2021.

Published 11 Nov 2020, 21:36 IST
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