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August 29, 2017

Naomi Osaka

New York, NY, USA

N. OSAKA/A. Kerber

6-3, 6-1

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You just beat the defending US Open champion. What does this mean to you?
NAOMI OSAKA: Well, it means a lot, I feel, especially since how I ended last year's US Open. But I tried not to think how good she was while I was playing her. I just tried to focus on what I could do to win the match, if that makes sense.

Q. You have been to the third round of all the Grand Slam events. It's not unusual for you to get through a first round, but to defeat an opponent like that and also in this grand stage at Arthur Ashe Stadium, talk about the emotions when you knew you had the match won.
NAOMI OSAKA: No, I didn't know I had the match won.

Q. Well, when it was over.
NAOMI OSAKA: Well, I felt really relieved, especially since I was so nervous on the last point. I just barely returned the serve.

I just really didn't want to play a long point on the last one, so I was really glad when she made an error.

Yeah, I was really happy because I grew up watching the greatest players play on that court, so to win a match on it felt really special.

Q. You mentioned the match you had last year, going up 5-1. How much were you trying to keep those memories away or were you trying to think about what you could do differently than what you did last year?
NAOMI OSAKA: Well, a little bit of both. I felt the same type of nerves come up, 4-1 in this match, so I wanted to tell myself just to keep playing how I was playing and not let the nerves get over me as much as last year.

But then again, she's also a different type of player, and I have to -- well, I feel like I have to hit longer rallies to end the point. And Madison sort of, like, she can dictate more, if that makes sense. It was like a different type of concentration, this match.

Q. A couple weeks ago you had to make that tough decision to retire to Pliskova. I'm wondering, how is the ab? Do you think that maybe pulling the ripcord on that match allowed you to prep and be ready for this match?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, well, like having to withdraw really hurt my feelings, especially since I was playing the No. 1, and I felt like I was doing really well.

But, again, I didn't want to do the same thing I did against Konta in Germany and, like, overplay and not even be able to get in the situation to win the match.

So I guess retiring, I went back home and I trained for two weeks and I did a lot of fitness and stuff, and I feel like that really helped playing against her, because she's a really solid player.

Q. Last year after the Madison match, you said you felt that if you are really that good, you might not need experience. I'm curious now, having this experience, if that changes your approach or if you feel this will do anything for you going forward?
NAOMI OSAKA: Well, I mean, the experience last year helped me this year, so, I mean, experience helps me, but I know there are other people that don't need experience. Moving forward, I feel like I know that I can play with the top players now, so I don't have to be as nervous as I was today.

Q. Your coaches had a champion here and worked with a couple of world No. 1s. What has Dave brought to your game and how has he helped you to develop?
NAOMI OSAKA: Uh-huh (smiling). Huh. Well, I mean, he talks to me a lot about positivity, because I tend to be really negative on myself and to the point where I don't really know what I'm doing anymore.

So, like, these past -- since Toronto, I would say, I have been being really solid about that. And also, he's helped me with my serve and my forehand and a lot of other stuff (smiling).

So I can't, like -- if I were to say everything he helped me with, it would take a lot of time.

Q. My apologies if I'm wrong, but even before your matches here in Queens this year and last year, I think your family, you have experienced New York. Can you describe the memories you have had of New York City, Queens, while you were growing up?
NAOMI OSAKA: Well, I lived in Long Island. When we were little, we would come to the US Open every year. And even to practice, sometimes I would play here.

So the site feels really familiar to me. I don't really know. It's, like, nostalgic every time I come here, so I'm always really happy to play here.

Q. You mentioned the nerves you had before the match. Can you just expand a little bit on that? Was it just kind of the moment, being back on Ashe? Was it playing Kerber? A combination of all those things? What were you feeling before you went out today?
NAOMI OSAKA: Well, it was a combination of everything, especially since I never played a defending champion. And also, I was playing on Ashe again, which wasn't really the best memory for me.

But, well, before the match I tried to tell myself that the last Grand Slam I played, I played Venus, and, like, I have really huge respect for Venus and Serena, and I tried to tell myself I'm probably not going to get as nervous against Kerber as I did against Venus.

So that wasn't the most reassuring thing I have ever said, but, I mean, it helped me through, but when I stepped on the court and I heard all the people and I saw how big the stadium was, I got a little bit freaked out, but I tried to hold it in.

Q. You said that you believe and know that your game can go up against the game's best players. I'm wondering, when did that - you say you're negative about yourself - when did you truly believe that? Was there a match or a moment, you know, in the past that that kind of clicked for you?
NAOMI OSAKA: Well, there was a little bit of a glimpse back in 19 -- no, I'm just kidding. (Laughter.)

That match that I beat Stosur, right? I had, like, a little bit of a thought of, hey, maybe I can play against these players, right? But then more consistently I think Tokyo, since I have never really won a lot of matches in a row before that. Especially after the match I played Cibulkova, I think I started thinking, like, I could possibly be a threat.

Q. You have been able to play more since you turned 18. How much has that been an impact on your career?
NAOMI OSAKA: I think that really helped. Like, I think 2016 was when it started, right? I feel like the results show for themselves, because my ranking was, like, 200 and then I went to 40.

I feel like I'm the type of player that does better the more tournaments I play in a row or the more matches, because I learn from the last match and then try to carry that over to the next matches.

Q. Is your whole family with you here at the tournament, or just your dad, or is your mom here too?
NAOMI OSAKA: My sister is in Florida training. She told me she was watching my match, because she sent me a lot of messages and stuff.

And my mom, apparently she was here. I didn't know that. She flew in yesterday, but she kept it a secret, so I saw her after my match, and I was, like -- I was so surprised. Then I just started crying a little bit, because I was really shocked.

But, yeah, my dad is here too, but he doesn't watch my matches. He just pops up at the end and says, Congratulations, and then that's it.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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