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MIAMI OPEN PRESENTED BY ITA├║


March 21, 2018


Naomi Osaka


Miami, Florida

N. OSAKA/S. Williams

6-3, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Were you nervous? Because you didn't look like it.
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I was nervous going into it, but then, like, when the match started, after the first three games, then I was okay.

Q. Nervous because you're playing your idol, or... (off microphone).
NAOMI OSAKA: Well, because she's the main reason why I started playing tennis, and just, I have seen her on TV so many times and I have always been cheering for her, so for me to play against her and just sort of trying to detach myself a little bit from thinking that I'm playing against her and just try to think I'm playing against just a regular opponent was a little bit hard for me.

Q. How long did that take?
NAOMI OSAKA: Three games. Yeah.

Q. When and how did you find out you were going to play Serena in Miami?
NAOMI OSAKA: Right after I won Indian Wells, like, three hours after.

Q. What was your reaction?
NAOMI OSAKA: Super happy. Yeah, just really excited, because I have always wanted to play her. So to get the opportunity, I was just really happy. It was sort of like a dream.

Q. (Question about the crowd cheering for Serena.)
NAOMI OSAKA: No. Like, if I was watching I'd be cheering for Serena, too. I didn't really mind it at all.

Q. You talk about how nervous you were. Was that more nervous than you were for the final the other day?
NAOMI OSAKA: Um, it's like a different type of nerves. I don't really know how to explain it, but I have never been that nervous to play a specific person as I was today.

But the final was sort of just because I have never been in that occasion.

Q. What did you think of her form? Obviously she's still working her way back.
NAOMI OSAKA: I don't know, because I never played her before. So I wouldn't really be able to say much about it.

Q. Was it what you expected?
NAOMI OSAKA: I mean, she hit a lot of shots that made me go extremely -- like, I almost fell over (smiling). I was, like, Whoa, that's a Serena shot. So, yeah.

Q. Your coach is perhaps uniquely qualified to prepare a player to play Serena. How did he specifically help you with that specific player?
NAOMI OSAKA: Um, how did he -- I don't know. He sort of just -- it was, like, normal, like how he told me against all the other people I played against. It wasn't that, like, extra. He didn't say extra stuff.

He mainly told me to focus on what I had to do, so there was that. And other than that, there wasn't that much -- like, I don't know how to describe it. But it wasn't like he gave me a notebook full of stuff that she would do.

Q. After the final on Sunday, you were amused, excited about taking the private plane with Daria and you were wondering if you were going to talk, et cetera. What was the flight like coming over?
NAOMI OSAKA: Oh, no (smiling). So the thing is she was sitting -- like, there was a seat in front and she was sitting in the seat, like, two seats in front. So I didn't talk to her the entire time.

But, I mean, I talked to her when I got in the plane and when we got off, so there's that. Yeah.

Q. Serena had an easy ball there on the last point and obviously hit it long and smiled in reaction. What was your reaction to her reaction, that moment there?
NAOMI OSAKA: Um, I wasn't looking at what she was doing. I was just kind of sad it ended like that.

But I was really, I don't know, just to see her in person, because since I'm kind of -- I was kind of new to the tour when she sort of left for that, in the Australian Open. I haven't really seen her around a lot. So it's kind of weird to see her not on TV for me, so to, like, shake her hand and stuff, I thought it was pretty cool.

Q. What did she say to you at the net?
NAOMI OSAKA: She said, Good job, and stuff. I kind of blanked out (smiling).

I'm pretty sure she said, Good job. So, yeah.

Q. Can you talk about how your life has changed in the last two weeks? I mean, all of a sudden you have won Indian Wells, you've beat Serena. How are you or your life any different from, let's say, February?
NAOMI OSAKA: People keep asking me that, but I don't really think my life has changed at all. I think it's mainly because I stay, like, in my little bubble. So I wouldn't really know how to answer your question.

Q. Now that Serena is gone, who is an ideal final match for you?
NAOMI OSAKA: I didn't look at the draw. I just saw I was playing Serena, and I was, like, Oh, well. Might as well just focus on that.

Q. I want to ask you about third game in the second set. You were serving and you saved break points. You made some aces. Do you remember that game?
NAOMI OSAKA: I think so, yes.

Q. Yeah, so I think that game is really important one for you? So could you talk about what, you know, you were thinking and how did you make so many aces against Serena in that game?
NAOMI OSAKA: Well, this is going to be really bad, but sometimes when I am in a really hard position when I'm serving, I'm, like, What would Serena do? But I was playing her. Yeah, I was literally just thinking what would Serena do?

I mean, because, you know, how sometimes she aces people in really bad positions? So I was trying to do that. It worked out.

Q. So basically you were trying to do the aces?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, I feel like everyone does that when they try to serve.

Q. Obviously Serena has been out for quite a while. Did you sense she was struggling with her movement on the court?
NAOMI OSAKA: I'm going to be really honest. I wasn't paying attention if she was struggling or not. I was just trying to make my balls in and stuff. Like, if you're playing against someone that's, like, the greatest player, I'm not trying to look over on that side of the court too much, because I think I would freak myself out a little bit. Then I would start thinking if she's struggling, if she's not struggling, if I should be doing this, if I should be doing that.

So I just tried to, like, look on my side of the court and not think too much about what she was doing.

Q. You did say on court afterwards that you wanted to impress her?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yes.

Q. What did that mean to you? What did that constitute, impressing her?
NAOMI OSAKA: Just not losing 6-0, 6-0. And just fighting for every point and -- yeah, I mean, it's weird if you grow up watching someone and wanting to be exactly like them, and then you have the chance to play them and it's sort of this respect thing.

But you also want to win really bad. I don't really know how to describe it, but -- yeah, I just wanted her to, in the end, like, after the match, just know who I am and stuff, so...

Q. Previously in your career you'd be playing someone else and you may think to yourself what would Serena do here? And then this is the first time you actually had that thought against Serena. Also, you said out on court that you wanted -- your goal was just to make her yell, Come on, at some point. (Rest of question off microphone.)
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, you know, because, like, sometimes she plays matches where she doesn't say, Come on, at all, and that's a little bit sad, because you think, do you think she's trying?

So, yeah, I just wanted her to say, Come on, once, because I knew that maybe she would be trying a little bit.

So, yeah, once I heard the first "Come on," I was, like, Yeah, yeah, (smiling).

Q. I want to ask you about being in Miami, there is a big Haitian community here. How close are you to your Haitian side of the family? Do you have Haitian relatives or anything in the U.S. and Miami? Have you been over there? Just how connected are you to that part of your culture?
NAOMI OSAKA: Well, I live in Florida, so this isn't new. Like, this area isn't new to me.

And my dad has relatives in New York, so whenever I play the US Open, I always see them. I have a lot of friends here and in New York.

I mean, I would say I'm pretty connected, because I grew up in New York with my dad's side of the family. So, yeah.

Q. You will say some words in Japanese?
NAOMI OSAKA: (Speaking Japanese.)

Q. How happy was this win?
NAOMI OSAKA: (Speaking Japanese.)

Yeah, yeah. (Speaking Japanese.)

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