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September 6, 2018

Naomi Osaka

New York, NY, USA

N. OSAKA/M. Keys

6-2, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. After your quarterfinal match you said your thoughts towards the semifinals was all business. Playing Serena Williams at the US Open in the final, what are your thoughts looking forward to that match?
NAOMI OSAKA: Uhm, of course it feels a little bit, like, surreal. Even when I was a little kid, I always dreamed that I would play Serena in a final of a Grand Slam. Just the fact that it's happening, I'm very happy about it.

At the same time I feel like even though I should enjoy this moment, I should still think of it as another match. Yeah, I shouldn't really think of her as, like, my idol. I should just try to play her as an opponent.

Q. Madison said the way you played tonight, you will give Serena a run for her money. How happy are you the way you played tonight?
NAOMI OSAKA: Well, I'm really happy that she said that. I mean, I feel like every day that I play, I always want to keep improving, so I'm never really sure what my top level is. But I think for sure today I played really well, and I had to because she's such a great player. She has, like, a really good record against me.

Yeah, I'm just right now happy that she said that.

Q. When you dreamed of playing Serena, how did that dream match come out?
NAOMI OSAKA: You already know (smiling). You're just asking me.

I don't dream to lose, so... That's how I'm answering your question.

Q. What do you consider the biggest similarities and differences in your style of play and Serena's?
NAOMI OSAKA: Uhm, I don't really know, to be honest. I feel like that's the same type of question that was asked when I was about to play Madison. Like, I think we're all kind of similar but very different, so I can't really answer that question correctly.

Q. What were those emotions when you played Serena in Miami for the first time? What was it like stepping on court against her?
NAOMI OSAKA: Surprisingly I felt sort of similar to how I feel now. Uhm, like I'm very hyped for it, but when I step onto the court, I just thought it was another match. I think I was able to play well then.

Q. Are you happy to have that match under your belt, even though it was at a different place than where she is now?
NAOMI OSAKA: Uhm, yeah, it's really cool that I was able to play her so early. Of course, I feel like since the circumstances were so different, I'll be able to see, like, how she changed and stuff. I think that experience was really good for me.

Q. This was your first semifinal of a Grand Slam. You played well. Are these occasions feeling different to you? Do you feel like you already know what you're doing in this sort of moment?
NAOMI OSAKA: Uhm, well, I think that I'm really grateful I had the experience of Indian Wells because that was also another big tournament. So for me, the quarters was bigger than getting to the semis. I think after I passed that stage, then I was fine again.

Q. I saw a bunch of fans outside posing with the Haitian flag. Have you heard from that community?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, my grandma was here, so maybe she was one of the people that was posing. I'm really glad that people are coming out and cheering.

Q. Before the Open you talked about feeling a lot of pressure this summer because of winning Indian Wells. At what point were you able to shake that off, what did you do to relieve yourself of that pressure?
NAOMI OSAKA: Well, it's kind of crazy that you ask that because, uhm, in Cincinnati after I lost, I lost three matches in a row. I was in the locker room and I was just crying because I thought, Wow, I'm really bad at tennis.

Then I came here and I was just thinking, I'm going to have fun and fight for every point that I can. I'll still here, so in a way I'm glad that I lost those three matches because I think my mentality would have been different coming into this tournament.

Yeah, I think it helped a lot.

Q. We know you have a similar story of being trained by your dad with your sister the way that Serena and Venus were with Richard. Especially since he's talked about being directly influenced by that, do you think you have some maybe similar war stories that once this is over you can share?
NAOMI OSAKA: Uhm, I'm not sure. But I do know for me one of the main things was that when I was practicing with my dad, if my sister wasn't there, I don't think I would have made it. I think maybe both of us have this really big, like, sister connection, so...

Q. The other day Sascha said he thought you had an innocence, that quality, people could learn from that quality. Do you think you have that quality?
NAOMI OSAKA: I'm not sure (laughter). Hmm. I'm not really sure because, like, sometimes people tell me I'm naïve. I'm not really sure if that is like similar to innocence. For me innocence is, like, this little baby, right, that was just born. For me that's what innocence means.

Q. Not jaded, unspoiled, not caught up in a lot of bad stuff.
NAOMI OSAKA: How do you know I'm not caught up in bad stuff (smiling)?

Q. I'm asking.
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I guess I like to think that I'm not, so...

Q. Besides the fact it's a Grand Slam final, do you think as opposed to the Miami match you're going to get more of a feel of what playing Serena is really like now, since she's been back, has been in two finals?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, like, for starters, when you just come back and then you make the finals of two slams, I think that's really amazing. I'm sure that everyone knows that Serena's really good, of course.

But I don't know. Like, I really feel like I don't want to overthink this match, so I'm not going to think that she's so much better than she was in Miami. I'm just going to go out there and play. Since I already know she's a good player, I don't want to be surprised if she plays better or not.

Q. As a child, as a kid, did you ever ask Serena for an autograph, and did you get it?
NAOMI OSAKA: Uhm, I don't think I was close enough. Like, you know how there are kids that are really close? I don't think I was ever close enough to ask her, so...

Q. You were down three breakpoints early in the first set, then you broke her in the next game. What changed mentally for you when you were down those three breakpoints?
NAOMI OSAKA: Uhm, well, I just start thinking about the things that I can control. If I hit a good serve, she hits a winner off of it, there's nothing I can do. I already know that was a possibility since she's such a great player. So I was just thinking, like, taking every point one ball at a time and seeing what I can do to help myself in the situation.

Q. We talk about a Saturday final. Maybe the stakes are much higher. Maybe we're going to talk a new era from Saturday. Do you think mentally, physically, every aspect, you are ready to take over the torch from Serena on Saturday, leading women's tennis?
NAOMI OSAKA: Like, she's still here. For me right now, I'm only thinking about my next match. I'm not really thinking that far ahead. Since I'm still in the tournament, I just like to try to keep it within the tournament, so...

Q. Sascha obviously worked with Serena for quite a long time. Do you think that can help you in terms of him offering an insight into her? Is it all about focusing on you?
NAOMI OSAKA: I think it may be slightly more focusing on me. I think, of course, he'll have things to say that could be helpful. I'm going to see what he says tomorrow.

Q. Sascha also said you play your best matches in the biggest moments. Do you agree with that? Why do you think that is, if that is true?
NAOMI OSAKA: Uhm, I mean, I agree with it. I think that happens because I feel like every day that I practice and there's no one watching, it sort of builds up to the moment where I can play on the big stadiums and I can play against the best tennis players. I feel like that's what all the hard work I've put in leads up to.

Q. You said before that without your sister you wouldn't be here. Was there a big rivalry when you were kids on the tennis court? Do you still play sometimes together?
NAOMI OSAKA: Uhm, yeah, I mean, the thing is my sister, she got injured a little bit so she couldn't really play for a while. I haven't really seen her because we both travel now.

But, like, I'd like to play with her, but she's hitting on a clay court now so I can't really do anything.

Q. When you were a kid, was it a big rivalry, you wanted to beat her badly so you improved?
NAOMI OSAKA: She beat me 6-0 until I was 15, and then I don't know what happened but one day I beat her 6-2. I'm not sure if you call that a rivalry if someone beats you every day 6-0 for 15 years.

Q. How much did the experience at Indian Wells, beating top players, winning a championship, how much will that help you Saturday?
NAOMI OSAKA: Uhm, I'm not really sure. I think atmosphere-wise tonight would help me more because I played against an American, and the crowd wasn't really for me. I sort of like that atmosphere.

So, uhm, I think instead of Indian Wells, just my matches here will help me.

Q. After the match Saturday, will you have remarks prepared?
NAOMI OSAKA: What do you mean?

Q. After Indian Wells, it seemed to catch you by surprise.
NAOMI OSAKA: Oh, that terrible speech (smiling)?

Yeah, I'm going to practice, I guess. Geez...

THE MODERATOR: Questions in Japanese.

Q. (Question in Japanese.)
NAOMI OSAKA: Uhm, I just think not getting too frustrated because she did have a lot of breakpoints and, uhm, I had to play really well during those moments. Also during the last game that I had to serve out, I lost the first point, and I was really tight. I was able to serve really good after that, so...

Q. (Question in Japanese.)
NAOMI OSAKA: Hmm. I think same goal. For me, I don't know. I don't want to, like, think too much about what she'll do. For me, I feel like I have to focus on me during the match.

Q. (Question in Japanese.)
NAOMI OSAKA: Well, during that game, I was just thinking that she was playing really well to get the breakpoints. I was basically thinking that I have to, like, survive the storm sort of. And, yeah, for me, I was just trying to serve really well and just keep the ball in play during those moments in that game.

Q. (Question in Japanese.)
NAOMI OSAKA: You know Serena is not a challenger (smiling). Of course I feel like I'm a challenger. She's been in so many Grand Slam finals, she knows how it feels. I'm still really new, I think. For me, that's the fun part. I think I'm going to really embrace the moment and I'm going to play at least to the best of my abilities.

Q. (Question in Japanese.)
NAOMI OSAKA: Uhm, okay, well, when I entered the arena to play my match today, I was really excited because I've never played a night match here. And, yeah, I knew the roof was closed, so it was going to be really loud. I thought that would make it more fun. So I was happy.

To be honest, your sentence was really long and I got tired. I'm sorry.

Q. (Question in Japanese.)
NAOMI OSAKA: Like which one? During Stanford?

Q. (Question in Japanese.)
NAOMI OSAKA: Are you asking me if I talked to her?

Q. (Question in Japanese.)
NAOMI OSAKA: Is that a question? Okay.

Q. Do you feel you are getting close to that? Is that just idol?
NAOMI OSAKA: No, I mean, for me she'll always be someone I look up to. But tennis-wise, I want to try to do my own thing. I want to be my own person. Like, I don't really think where that -- I don't know how to say. I don't really think, like, I want to do exactly what she does. So it's not my goal.

I know that I say that I really love her, but it's not my immediate goal to do everything she does. I know everyone has their own way of doing things. Like, there's a process. I think that's what makes everyone really individual, so...

Q. (Question in Japanese.)
NAOMI OSAKA: Well, for me, I think today, since the last few times I've played Madison, I've been the one that's been trying to go for shots. Today I was just trying to be more patient and maybe go for them when I had the opportunity. So, yeah, I wasn't trying to hit that many winners or anything.

Yeah, today was, yeah, I guess business, too.

Q. (Question in Japanese.)
NAOMI OSAKA: No. Like yes, I wouldn't play the match unless I thought I did.

Q. (Question in Japanese.)
NAOMI OSAKA: I think to have confidence in myself is the most important thing.

Q. (Question in Japanese.)
NAOMI OSAKA: Uhm, well, now I just feel like I'm in a press conference. I'm not really, like, excited or anything. I haven't seen my parents yet. I think when I see them, I'll be happy.

Q. (Question in Japanese.)
NAOMI OSAKA: I mean, I feel like it's already tomorrow. I don't know what time it is, but I'm going to sleep for a very long time, then I'm going to come here and practice. Of course, I'm going to watch Kei's match.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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