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October 20, 2018

Naomi Osaka

Kallang, Singapore

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You said in Beijing that you feel like you always want to prove yourself. I'd like to ask, how significant is doing well here and this desire to prove yourself? Is it about proving to yourself that you've got a seat at the adults table?
NAOMI OSAKA: I'm going to be honest. I kind of got over the proving myself within that one hour I said it (smiling). Then I realized it probably wasn't the right choice of words.

I mean, of course I always want to do well. I think everyone here wants to do well. But at the same time, I don't want to put too much, like, burden on myself to keep having high expectations, like everyone here is the best, like, the best players in the world, and I shouldn't expect myself to win every match.

This is the last year it's going to be held in Singapore, and I don't know, I just want to have fun and enjoy myself.

Q. Can you share more about how you got over that?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah. I was, like, sitting down and I was, like, what do I mean when I say "prove myself"? Because if you say "prove yourself," it means -- it's not within yourself. It's sort of, like, prove yourself to other people, right? Then I was thinking, no offense, I don't really -- I don't want to say I don't care what other people think, because of course you do, but, like, I don't know. Like, I don't -- I'm sorry. I don't, like, put other people's expectations on myself. I put my own expectations on myself.

Q. What did you do after Beijing? Did you go home? Did you take some time off, at least a couple days? I know that at that time against Sevastova, when Sascha came on court, you know, you were obviously showing tiredness, which is understandable. He was saying himself you're going to take a couple of days off after this. Is that what happened?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah. I was told by the doctor to take a few days off. I went to Hong Kong, because I really love Hong Kong, anyway. So I was going to go and, like, show support for the tournament.

So I went there and then I went to Tokyo and just rested and practiced.

Q. Does the last six, seven weeks kind of feel surreal to you? Are you kind of believing everything that's happened? Do you think maybe you need the year to end to kind of get a real feel for how things have changed for you?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, for me, I think -- I don't know. Like, I'm playing tournament after tournament, so I don't really have time to think about, like, my life changing or anything.

For me, I'm just more thinking about my next match and my next tournament. So, yeah, I feel like I would need the year to end to maybe process more.

Q. Do you feel, though, like maybe you're treated differently when you show up at tournaments, or more people when you're places, obviously maybe when you went to Tokyo or whatever, are, like, Oh, that's Naomi Osaka, that people are recognizing you? Are you feeling a difference in your life at all?
NAOMI OSAKA: I mean, with the recognition part, I do feel a bit different. Like before it was only Japan I felt like people know me. But now like even here, I guess this is Asia, too, though, so it doesn't really count, but like in the airports and stuff. And, yeah, I just think that that's kind of funny.

Yeah, I'm really grateful that people, like, want to take pictures of me and stuff.

Q. You were here a few years ago with the Rising Stars Invitational. Do you feel that experience might help in any way? Because this tournament can be so different with the parties and the runup and all the media attention. Might that help you in any way?
NAOMI OSAKA: I mean, I would hope so. I mean, definitely I would take my experience playing on center court and stuff.

But other than that, I just remember the Rising Stars event being my first big tournament sort of, like I have never played on a center court that big before. So definitely it's always in my memories.

Q. How does this tournament thus far and the preparation compare to a Grand Slam? I mean, same points, same big money, but also you are just seven other players and you and having the galas and getting to hang out with the top eight more. How does that compare with you thus far?
NAOMI OSAKA: I mean, I think it's really cool, like there is no other tournament that's like this. I don't know. It feels like the first round, if you can call it a round, it's against someone that's so amazing, and you know that every person you're going to play has done really well throughout the years.

So it's very exciting, I think. I have never played this tournament before, so I can't really say I have much experience. But, yeah, I'm just really happy to be here.

Q. How does the court feel for you as far as the speed of the court?
NAOMI OSAKA: I mean, I think it's fast, but I like fast courts. So I don't know. I think I'll enjoy playing.

Q. To follow up, is Sascha bringing to you the experience of being here with other players? I mean, has he talked to you a little bit of what to expect in the new environment, you know, different than the Rising Stars, obviously, by being one of the top eight?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, throughout this whole year, he's basically been talking about Singapore.

Q. So you're tired of it?
NAOMI OSAKA: No, I mean, we're here, so he's welcome (smiling). But, no, I mean, definitely throughout this year he's really taught me a lot of things and I'm really grateful for it. We have this one last tournament, and he's constantly, like, sharing with me things that is new. So, yeah, I just hope that I can apply it.

Q. Sometimes players, for the first participation here, they can find it a bit overwhelming, the attention, obligations, the format, it is different. What kind of mindset do you bring in? How do you focus for a format that is completely different from what you get all year long? Have you been talking to other players who have the experience of this format?
NAOMI OSAKA: I mean, for me, I hope I don't get overwhelmed. I don't know. You never really know how you're gonna feel until you're in that moment.

So I can only hope that I'll play well and I won't get, like, nervous or anything, which I'm sure I will, but yeah, I feel like that's all part of the process. You know me. I don't really talk to people (smiling). I mean, I listen to their conversations, if that counts (smiling).

Q. Do you feel that with the increased attention you're getting from the media and from people at the airport, do you feel you have had to change your personality or adjust a bit to try and cope with all this?
NAOMI OSAKA: I mean, for me, I can't change who I am. But I have been thinking -- this is going to sound really weird, but I wonder that people don't show their personality versus people that do, like, I feel like people will dislike someone no matter what if they make up their minds. So, for me, I never really thought about changing how I am versus, like, not showing too much.

Like for example, if I didn't act as weird as I am, right, if I was just, like, sort of like a robot with the yes-and-no questions, I feel like that wouldn't really be true to myself or anything. So I haven't really thought about changing my personality. Unless you really want me to. Then maybe I'll consider it (smiling).

Q. The chatter is that you're soon to be the richest athlete in the world with endorsements and stuff. Does any of that have big meaning for you? Is that just something that comes along with the territory?
NAOMI OSAKA: I wouldn't really know, because I have never been in this territory. I mean, you saying it is something new to me. For me, I just focus on my matches, and, I mean, like I'm a tennis player, so I just play tennis and I leave the rest up to everyone that I trust.

Q. And can you talk a little bit, both you and Sloane, I think that's your matchup, that's your first time here and stuff, and I imagine maybe you've practiced with her in Florida once she's been there and stuff? How well do you know her? Your thoughts on that match?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, I'm really excited to play against her. I didn't know this, I kind of forgot, but I have played her in a match in Acapulco. So yeah, I mean, she's a Grand Slam champion. She's really amazing.

Actually, during the entire, like, gala and photo session we had yesterday, she was really nice. Yeah, I just feel like since it's both our first time here, I don't know. We both want to do well, so I think the match that we play is going to be very good.

Q. I'd like to ask you about the group stage. Your group is the Red Group. What do you think about this fighting way over this group stage?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, I'm not really used to round robins. But I also think it's a really good thing, because if you happen to lose a match, it doesn't automatically mean you're out of the tournament. You have other matches you can play and you can continue to, like, learn from the last match you have played.

In this way, I think to make one tournament like this, it's very exciting. Yeah, I don't know. I kind of want to see what happens.

Q. Just being in Tokyo and relaxing a bit, what did you do to relax and kind of recharge your batteries while you were there? In talking to your family, whether your sister or father or mother, what's the best piece of advice they have given you since New York to deal with kind of everything that's been happening?
NAOMI OSAKA: Hmm. You asked two questions. First question, what I did in Tokyo, I just practiced and stayed in my room and ordered room service. Yeah, I mean, I went out. Like on my birthday I went to these temples and I had dinner. But I didn't really do too much in Tokyo. I was just trying to focus for this tournament.

My mother, my father, my sister, they have been really supportive. For me to talk, I talk to my dad the most, because I feel like he's the one that calms me down. The best advice he's given me I think just in general is that everyone has their own path. You shouldn't really compare yourself to other people. I don't know. Like as long as you try your best, then something will eventually happen.

Q. You have been on several talk shows. One of them was Ellen DeGeneres.
NAOMI OSAKA: Don't do it.

Q. The whole Michael Jordan thing, it was hilarious. Did you find that fun? Are you having fun with this? He's just wished you a happy birthday on Twitter. Did you feel like it was cool?
NAOMI OSAKA: Did you feel it was cool?

Q. I thought it was cool.
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, that whole thing is, I guess, really entertaining for everyone watching, but if you're in there...

Q. Not so much?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, like, for me, I think it's really cool to have interactions like that, like Ellen is someone that I have watched growing up. I don't know. It's kind of weird to know that she knows who I am.

Yeah, I feel like it's really fun to have, like, Twitter to let you have interactions like that.

Q. Would you please tell us, how did you feel when you walked on the red carpet last night?
NAOMI OSAKA: I felt like my feet were hurting. I don't know. I felt nervous, because I'm not really too used to red carpets or anything like that.

For me, I feel way more comfortable if I walk on a tennis court. Yeah, I was just basically feeling very nervous and kind of shy.

Q. Many people welcome you and see you last night. What do you think about that?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I was really grateful, and I don't know. Like, for me, it's always a little bit surprising when people know who I am. I feel like this year has been a process. I don't know. Yeah, I mean, just the thoughts that I had was that I was grateful and very happy.

Q. Did you play game in your suite room this time?
NAOMI OSAKA: No, actually I haven't played since US Open, so it's been a very sad few months (smiling).

Q. (Question in Japanese.)
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, of course I'm very happy that I am in this position that I am, but I don't necessarily want to have the feeling of satisfaction, because that means that, I don't know, you think you have reached your goal. For me, I don't want to stop here.

Of course this tournament hasn't even started yet, so definitely, to play this tournament, you have to have the goal of winning on your mind. You're playing against the best players in the world. So I don't know. Like I just want to compete, and after this tournament is over maybe I can think about being satisfied. But for now, I don't know. I just feel really competitive.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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