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March 17, 2018
Indian Wells, California
N. OSAKA/S. Halep
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. How good did it feel out there to finish it the way you did?
NAOMI OSAKA: I mean, I was kind of nervous, like, that entire game because it kept going back and forth.
But I'm really glad I was able to finish on my serve instead of having to break her or something like that. Yeah, it felt good.
Q. What were you most pleased about today, I mean, aside from the win? Do you feel you made adjustments based off of the last matches you played against her to get over the line this time?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, I just really tried to be consistent. I think in Australia I just made way too many mistakes, and I sort of handed her the match.
So I just tried to be a little bit annoying and return a lot.
Q. Did it surprise you that you sort of got the lead more quickly? Were you expecting her to come back or were you focused on sticking to your own game plan?
NAOMI OSAKA: Well, I mean, I didn't want to look too much on the other side of the court, because I felt then I would lose my focus.
But I was a little bit surprised, especially, like, the start of the second set. Because I feel like she gave me three free points, but I didn't try to think too much about it.
Q. On the first match point, you made 76 miles first serve, which doesn't happen that often. Was that because of nerves or you did it on purpose?
NAOMI OSAKA: I kind of did it on purpose, because I don't think my first-serve percentage this match was really good. So I was just sort of trying to make her play the first ball.
I'm not really sure what happened to that shot. I guess she hit a winner or something.
Q. Yes, she did.
NAOMI OSAKA: She did?
Q. You missed.
NAOMI OSAKA: Oh, I missed. Okay. Well, I mean, that was my fault (smiling).
Like, I hit it on purpose, not that I just shanked it or anything.
Q. How does it feel to be in the final of a tournament like this?
NAOMI OSAKA: Well, it feels a little bit lonely, because there's, like, nobody here. Like, I'm kind of -- like, as it goes on, there is less players and stuff. It's kind of cool, but also a little bit, like, sad because then you're not around the people that you talk to and stuff.
But other than that, it's cool. Because then, like, all the sushi, there is still a lot of sushi left and stuff.
Q. How do you feel about your matchup against Kasatkina?
NAOMI OSAKA: Well, I feel like it's going to be really interesting, because she kind of plays a completely different game than me, and I think we're both in the final of this type of tournament for the first time. So it's going to be fun, I think.
Q. Are you going to hit 'tweener against her?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, right. (Smiling).
No, I can't even do it for laughs, because I'd want to win the point too much. Probably not.
Q. Do you feel you improved at all in that 'tweener lesson?
NAOMI OSAKA: No. Well, I mean, I hit one over, but I haven't done anything after that. So it's just sort of an unused half-skill.
Q. When I asked Daria what it meant that you're both 20-year-olds and you're both in the final of a big tournament like this, she said, It means that we're coming. What kind of statement do you think a final like this would make?
NAOMI OSAKA: I kind of feel the same as she said. I feel like everyone sort of takes their paths different ways. Like -- how do I say?
Like, I feel like maybe I came out a little bit slower than she has, because she's obviously seeded in this tournament and stuff. But I feel like we ended up in the same place, and we're both going to try really hard.
And, yeah, I feel like there is a new generation, and we're trying to push through.
Q. What would it feel like to you to win this tournament?
NAOMI OSAKA: Good (smiling). I mean, it would feel good, but I'm not trying to put pressure on myself or anything. I feel like every player I have played has had the pressure on them because -- like, everyone has been seeded and stuff.
So I'm just trying to be consistent and not worry too much on winning or losing.
Q. How did you stay fresh and prepared through the first match? Because it was quite long. Did you get a chance to watch any of that?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I watched the whole thing.
Well, I -- huh. How do I stay fresh? I just was laying down on the sofa. That was the main thing I was doing. And then I went to go warm up, but then she won the second set.
I mean, I was just sort of soaking up the moment. It's not often that you play a semis against a No. 1. So I was just trying to stay loose and have fun.
Q. Simona said she couldn't concentrate on today's match because it started too late or maybe because of the weather, the conditions. Did it bother you at all?
NAOMI OSAKA: No, because I played three -- this is my third? Fourth night match? So I have kind of had a lot of experience this late.
So it didn't bother me at all. And also, it was cold the other day, too. So that wasn't really a factor to me.
Q. Your camp seemed pretty excited, your first final. How big is this for them?
NAOMI OSAKA: I'm pretty sure Sascha has been to a lot of finals (smiling).
But, I mean, everyone's really happy for me, because they know, like, I trained really hard during the offseason, so I'm really happy that that's, like, paying off.
Yeah, I'm just -- they know that I'm a little bit unsatisfied with everything that I do, so they're just trying to pump me up and tell me, like, to enjoy the moment.
Q. How different does this feel than a regular tournament? Just making it this far, getting the wins, is this what you imagined your big, breakout tournament was going to look like, or does it feel similar or different than what you imagined?
NAOMI OSAKA: Is this a breakout tournament?
Q. I think you said it was.
NAOMI OSAKA: Is it? I'm not really sure.
Q. You can dial it back. Why not?
NAOMI OSAKA: No, I mean, I'm really happy I got to the finals, but for me it's not over until, like, I win or, like, the day is over, you know.
I don't really feel anything (smiling).
Q. You didn't celebrate that match when you won even though you just beat No. 1. Is that because it's not over yet or just if you show your joyness too much it would be disrespectful to her?
NAOMI OSAKA: Well, when I was playing the match, I was thinking, Okay, when I win, I'm going to throw my racquet and just be super happy.
But then I was thinking I didn't want to think that while I was playing, because then, if I started losing, I would get extremely angry.
I mean, I saw Dasha. She threw her racquet, right? Yeah. And I was going to be, like, I'm going to be that extra. Maybe I'll even cry a little bit just to soak it in. But I didn't. I was just sort of more relieved that it was over.
And then by that -- like, the time that it took for me to realize that I won, I couldn't throw my racquet because it's been, like, a good 10 seconds. So I just went to the net, because I feel like celebrating in a crazy way is, yeah, it's a little bit disrespectful to her, I think.
Q. You are superstitious player, like, doing the same thing, eating the same food as long as you are winning?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, I have kind of been doing the same thing, and it's kind of been really boring and sad.
But I would say half and half, because I know there is a lot more superstitious people than me, and I don't necessarily have to do the same things every day.
Q. What's the best part of being a 20-year-old on the WTA Tour who's winning?
NAOMI OSAKA: Can't relate (smiling). I don't know.
I feel like I just started winning. Like, it's a new feeling for me to be this consistent. So I'm just trying to be happy about that.
And also, this tournament is not over yet, so I'm just trying to focus on the next match right now.
Q. You have shown us a great sense of humor. Where do you get that from? Does that help you stay relaxed? Just kind of shake things off a bit?
NAOMI OSAKA: I don't know. Um, I'm not really sure, because my parents aren't very funny. I kind of think I just got it from the Internet.
And does it help me relax? I'm not sure if it helps me relax, because I don't know. I feel like sometimes I'm waiting for you guys to laugh, but you guys don't laugh, so that kind of stresses me out a little bit.
But, yeah, I kind of feel like me making these weird jokes is, like, a defense mechanism. I don't know. Like, I just say whatever to divert the attention. So, yeah.
Q. Do you ever have the opposite experience where you think we laugh at the wrong moments when you're being serious?
NAOMI OSAKA: Every day (smiling).
Like, sometimes I would legit say something with, like, all my heart at, like, somebody I'm talking to, and they would just start laughing. I'm just, like, What are you doing?
But, yeah, I mean, I think it's because my face is, like -- I don't smile when I'm saying it. So I think they think I'm either serious all the time or I'm just joking.
Q. Could you tell me about your family, your father, your mother, and your sister? What is your family like to you, like, what does your family mean to you?
NAOMI OSAKA: Like, besides all the stuff you can Wikipedia. Like, my mom is Japanese. My dad is Haitian, blah, blah, blah. My sister is same as me.
My family means to me? I mean, I feel like the only reason I'm playing is because of my family. Like, I mainly play -- well, I play now for myself. But when I was little, I just played because I wanted to make my mom happy, mainly my mom, and also my dad, for him to be proud.
And, yeah, I mean, my family means a lot to me. I call my sister almost every day and we play games and stuff. So, yeah.
Q. Do you ever think it would be cool to be in her shoes at Stanford instead of what you're doing?
NAOMI OSAKA: Who?
Q. Your sister.
NAOMI OSAKA: She's not in Stanford.
Q. Where is she?
NAOMI OSAKA: She's in Florida.
Q. Sorry about that. But anyway, same question, though. Do you ever think it would be cool to be in her shoes in college?
NAOMI OSAKA: No, no. She's not in college.
Is that all Wikipedia or something? I'm so confused right now.
Q. But you do have a sister?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yes (laughter).
Q. Speaking of the Internet and you were talking about memes the other day, if you were to pick a meme to describe your two weeks so far in Indian Wells, what would it be?
NAOMI OSAKA: Okay. Here we go.
Hmm. Oh, the Drake's "God's Plan" one. The one where it just says "God's Plan" starts playing. That one, if any of you guys -- I bet you don't know what I mean, but that's okay.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports