“Motivated Me to Keep Working Hard”: Kevin Anderson Credits Rafael Nadal for Inspiring Him

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Two-time Grand Slam finalist Kevin Anderson has picked out Pete Sampras and Juan Carlos Ferrero as the ones who inspired him to pick up the racket. He also had tall praise for Rafael Nadal.

On a podcast with MatchPoint Canada, Anderson said, “I think I had a few [idols]. I think Pete Sampras, growing up, was probably a lot of people’s idols, but I didn’t model his game at all.” 

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Sampras’ consistency was motivating, says Kevin Anderson

“Just his success, I mean, his consistency in the successes that he had was very motivating,” the lanky South African said of the 14-time Grand Slam champion.

Speaking of the former French Open winning Spaniard, Anderson said, “I really enjoyed watching Juan Carlos Ferrero play.” 

“He’s been a standout player”: Kevin Anderson on Rafael Nadal

Anderson also named peer Rafael Nadal as the one whose success, even at 34, has motivated him to keep playing.

“Even though he’s my age, and now he’s a competitor of mine, because he’d such good success at a young age, Nadal’s been somebody who’s motivated me to keep working hard,” Anderson said. “He was having amazing success at 16 or 17 and I turned pro a few years later,” Anderson said of the 20-time Grand Slam winner.

“It’s a bit of an adjustment for me going from watching him… to being a competitor,” Anderson added. “He’s been a pretty standout player, not only in our generation. He’ll go down as one of the best in the history of our sport.” 

Kevin Anderson has had his share of injuries

Currently at the 79th spot in the ATP singles rankings, Anderson also heads the ATP Player Council. The post fell vacant after 17-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic stepped down to float a breakaway players’ front.

As with Nadal, Anderson, too, has had a fair share of injuries in his career.

Kevin Anderson at ATP 2020 Vienna
Kevin Anderson celebrates winning his quarter final match against Russia’s Daniil Medvedev REUTERS/Lisi Niesner

The latest in his injury saga saw the South African withdraw midway into his semi-final clash with Russian Andrey Rublev at the Erste Bank Open. Rublev eventually went on to win the Vienna title. 

Anderson made the title rounds at the 2017 US Open and 2018 Wimbledon Championship, his best showings in Grand Slams. He reached a career-high ranking of Number 5 on July 16, 2018.

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