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August 31, 2017

Naomi Osaka

New York, NY, USA

N. OSAKA/D. Allertova

6-3, 4-6, 7-5

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. A long three-setter. How did you get it done in the end?
NAOMI OSAKA: I don't know. I think just willpower, because I don't really think I was playing that good today. I felt a little bit stressed because it was my first match after playing Kerber.

So I felt a little bit of expectations to win, and I think that's the reason why I wasn't playing so well, but I'm not going to say that's an excuse.

Q. When did that pressure start to set in for you? This morning? During the day off?
NAOMI OSAKA: No. I was, like, I thought I would be fine (smiling). Yesterday was my day off, and I was, like, oh, everything's great, you know.

But then, like, when I was walking down the hall to go to the court for the match, then I was, like, oh, my God. The hallway is super long, so I started thinking way too much.

But, yeah, at least I won in the end.

Q. You have been pretty much fist pumping and shouting, Come on. Is that a way to try and release some of the stress you felt? It was very much back and forth in the third set.
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah. I think saying, Come on, is a way for me to stay concentrated and not, like -- because sometimes my mind wanders during the match, and if -- like, if I'm really pumped up, then I tend to focus really well.

So I think that's just the main reason why I do it.

Q. We just had Ostapenko in here. I feel we are seeing so much branding from the ATP about the Next Generation, but we are seeing all you young people from the WTA out here winning late in Grand Slams consistently. What do you make of all your fellow youths, I guess, sticking around here late?
NAOMI OSAKA: Oh, you mean, like all the other girls like my age and stuff?

Q. Yeah. You're youth.
NAOMI OSAKA: Oh, my God, no. I'm old (smiling).

No, I think they are really good. Like, whenever I see them winning and stuff, it makes me really motivated to do the same.

And I think, like, in a sense, maybe we are pushing each other to do better, because I know subconsciously I keep track of all their matches and stuff.

So, yeah, I think it's really good. Like, usually I think it's a group of younger people do better than just one single, like -- like, you know, if you're climbing up the rankings, it's, like, better as a group.

I don't know what I'm saying, actually (smiling).

Q. It makes sense.
NAOMI OSAKA: Like, just -- oh, my God. What am I doing?

Yeah, just -- it's motivating. Sorry.

Q. Can you compare and contrast playing on Ashe on Tuesday and today on 13?
NAOMI OSAKA: Well, I mean, Ashe was a bigger court, but I felt like Court 13 was more personal. Last year I played on Court 13 against Coco, and everyone literally -- I felt everyone was against me. So just to have them cheer for me this time around, I felt really happy, and I really tried my best to win my match.

Q. Did you get the opportunity to look at the crowd? If you did, what did you see?
NAOMI OSAKA: No, I didn't look at the crowd, but I heard voices, like, Gannbatte, and, Come on, Naomi. I felt like maybe the crowd was mixed.

Q. Do you feel you're being recognized on the grounds coming to and from practice? If so, how does that make you feel?
NAOMI OSAKA: Well, I wasn't on the grounds yesterday. Then today I literally only went there for my match and then I left.

Not really. I'm not really sure.

Q. You just said that your mind sometimes wanders during a match. Where does it go?
NAOMI OSAKA: Oh, God. Well, you know, once I was practicing, right, and my whole practice -- you know, there is that commercial that says, "If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma," that's all I could think about for the whole practice. I was, like, why do I keep thinking this?

Then, like, during the breaks, all I could see was like that commercial where this woman was running in a field. I mean, it was a good practice. It's just my mind wasn't there. Like, I think it was just muscle memory and stuff. That was a weird day.

Q. One of the cool things about tennis is that sort of the athlete is out there in the arena for a long, long time just with herself and her thoughts. Sort of just like what you said. What's been the strangest thing you thought during one of your matches in your career as you have traveled around, whether it's looking up in the stands and seeing someone or just a bizarre thought or whatever?
NAOMI OSAKA: During the match, though?

Q. Yes.
NAOMI OSAKA: Well, it's not really weird. I don't think it's weird, but there was one match I was playing, and this person kept telling me what to do, right?

So then I kind of wanted to, like, ask him what his ranking was and stuff (smiling).

But I don't really think that's weird, you know.

Q. What was he telling you to do? And where was it?
NAOMI OSAKA: He was, like, Hit your forehand. Hit high on her forehand. She hits flat balls. You can do it.

I mean, he was nice about it. At least he wasn't mean.

It was kind of -- and I actually did do it twice, and it did work. But then I was just kind of annoyed, because it's a solo game, you know.

Q. In Australia just a little while ago, a fan gave Serena some advice two years ago, and she did it, but do you think that should be banned, you know, coaching by fans?
NAOMI OSAKA: I mean, as long as I don't get in trouble because it's not my fault.

But, I mean, it's fun, like, it's an interaction. I think tennis is one of the most, like, polite sort of sports.

So if there is people like that, too, and that's how they express themselves, I think it's fine.

Q. I'm sure you have been asked this before, but you grew up with a lot of different ethnic backgrounds. Why did you decide to play for Japan? Was that a conversation you had with your parents or something, like, I'm going to do this, it's natural?
NAOMI OSAKA: No, I talked to my parents about it. It wasn't an easy decision.

But, I mean, I feel more, like, I grew up with Japanese culture, and I feel a little bit more, like, that's how my personality is.

I feel comfortable when I go to Tokyo, too.

Q. Have you ever used a salon in the players lounge at a slam?
NAOMI OSAKA: I don't think they can deal with my hair.

Q. You do play under the Japanese auspices, but I'm wondering, because you play a lot in America against Americans and you have the American passport, that you're part of the American mix of you players? Do you feel part of that group of players in America?

Q. No? Okay.

Q. You have Kanepi next. She's working her way back from injury. What are your thoughts on that match and how much would it mean for you to make your first Grand Slam second week here?
NAOMI OSAKA: Okay. I didn't know I was playing her. I didn't check the draw. Like, when I saw I was playing Kerber, I closed the draw, and then I won that, so then I looked at my next person and I closed the draw again because that seems to be working for me.

I mean, David probably knows a lot about her, so I will probably talk to him a lot because he likes to talk a lot.

Yeah, I don't really have any plans or anything now.

Q. Time and again, you seem so open, so fun-loving, so straightforward, sort of American-type traits, I think.

Q. Yet you say you feel like you're Japanese in spirit or your traits are Japanese. Could you talk about that, how you feel Japanese?
NAOMI OSAKA: Well, I'm fine here, for some reason, like, if I'm talking to a group. But if it's, like, a single person, then I get really shy and stuff. Then since my face is like this, I have heard that people said that I'm kind of rude because I don't -- like, I don't really talk or anything.

And then, like, my head, I do this sometimes (nodding) because that's, like, the Japanese hello. They are, like, Why do you keep doing that with your head? I'm, like, Sorry.

Also, like, I don't really talk a lot. I know I'm talking a lot now, but normally I don't talk that much. It's just, like, a few things.

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