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March 9, 2019

Naomi Osaka

Indian Wells, California

N. OSAKA/K. Mladenovic

6-3, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English, please.

Q. You said that you were quite nervous before the match. Can you just talk through, you know, what it felt like before you were about to walk out on that court and at what point in the match did you kind of settle down into things?
NAOMI OSAKA: No, I mean, I wasn't nervous walking onto the court. I would say more during my practice, because I was practicing on Court 3. And then when I got there, there were so many people and it felt so different from last time I was here.

I don't know. I just wanted to do well for all the people that were watching. Yeah, but when I walked onto the court, I was fine. It felt like normal.

Q. I was curious when they do a bag check for you, like, what you see on TV, do you have your new, little Barbie Doll in your bag that you can pull out that was made of you?
NAOMI OSAKA: I mean, if they do a bag check on me right now, they're just going to find a lot of plastic bags. I didn't get the Barbie yet. And also, I wouldn't put it in my bag if I had it (smiling). I would put it in a case in my house and frame it or something.

Q. Just going out there and just playing that match, obviously not great memories of the last one you played against her in Dubai, but what were you pleased with the most of how were you able to handle everything tonight?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, you know, seeing as it's my first match back here and everyone talks about, like, being a defending champion, and then playing her again, I think actually it was really good for me.

Because I learn the most when I lose matches, and I lost to her last in Dubai. And honestly, it was great that I got to play her again because I was able to learn from the mistakes I did back then, and I was able to apply it. It worked out pretty well for me.

Q. What do you think you learned from the last time you played against her and applied to today?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, I just learned to be really positive and not give her anything. Of course there are some points that I made a few, like, really bad choices, but other than that, I just tried to do a higher percentage shot.

Yeah, I knew that she was going to play well, so...

Q. You had a couple of great moments at the net where you anticipated very well which way she was going to go. Is that net play something you'd like to implement more and more going forward?
NAOMI OSAKA: I mean, for me, when I see someone at the net, I just start thinking, like, percentage. Like, you know, 30% chance they are going to go this way, so might as well go with the higher chance, or she went this way last time, so she might go this way the other time.

It feels like the ball stops for a split second while I'm thinking about that. Usually, I'm able to anticipate it well, but she's, like, one of the best players at the net that I have played, so it was kind of difficult this time around.

Q. Just talk a little bit about the three kids you saw and the guy who said it was freezing. Do moments like that, in a way, relax you or give you joy, or was it fun? Just talk about that, please.
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, for me, it's really fun, because I feel like people get engaged in the match. They're just here and having a good time.

I don't know. Like, I know that you're not technically supposed to be listening to, like, the outside crowd, but when they are shouting it down, I try not to laugh, but it's really funny. Yeah, I think that moment really stood out for me.

Q. Were the moths a factor at court level?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, they were flying everywhere (smiling). It was impossible not to see them.

But, like, other than being on the baseline and stuff, it's not -- like, I don't know. Like, when you're serving and then you see, like, three moths right where you're about to serve, then you feel bad. You're like, should I kick them off? But, like, they're already dead.

So I don't know. I don't want to say it was annoying because they're still like "animals" or "insects," but, yeah, it was a little bit annoying.

Q. Getting back to your practice before the match today and all the people there, and I think there were cameras and a reporter, as well, how is that tricky? How do you maybe get over -- if it is tricky, how do you maybe get over it and block it out?
NAOMI OSAKA: No, I mean, for me, I feel like I have been really blessed, in a way, because honestly I have had media around me even when I wasn't supposed to have media around me.

So that, I kind of got used to, like, maybe a year ago, especially, like, winning here last year, and US Open and Australian Open definitely helped because that made more people come to my practices.

But I feel like in Indian Wells it's a little bit more intimate compared to all the other tournaments because, like, I usually practice on Court 3, so there is people surrounding every section of the court. I don't know. Usually it's little kids. I don't know why I have such a soft spot for little kids. But, yeah, I mean, they're really cute.

Q. After the first set, you called the new coach and you talk something. What did he advise to you?
NAOMI OSAKA: Well, I mean, you're going to play it back and watch it, right? You guys know. I don't remember anything for, like, the past hour (smiling).

I think he told me to, like, hit it in the middle instead of going for the lines too much during important points. Just, like, to be positive. But you're going to watch it, anyway, so you'll have a clear understanding.

Q. You just said that you had gotten used to the media attention. Which part of the media attention have you not gotten used to yet?
NAOMI OSAKA: I mean, for me, the media was the biggest thing that was my problem. No offense, guys. I'm sorry (smiling).

I don't know. Ah, I guess, like -- I don't want to call them random people, but random people stop me and want to take pictures. It usually shocks me, because it's sometimes not when I'm anticipating it. Like, if I'm at the tournament site, then I'm cool with it, because I know it's a tennis tournament. But, like, if I'm just walking around in, like, a mall or something, then it just catches me off-guard.

Q. How about showing emotions when you play? You talked in the past you want to keep yourself in control and manage that. But you're expressive when you play. What's the balance right now? Where do you play your best tennis in terms of emotions on the court?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I think I play best when I celebrate the good points and I don't show any emotions for the bad points.

So that way, like, all the positive energy goes up. It's like a seesaw. If you celebrate the good part, then it goes up, and then, like, show no reaction for any of the negative parts.

Q. I was curious, do you have more difficulty gearing up for a later-evening match like you had tonight as opposed to afternoon or late-morning match? What's your preference and why?
NAOMI OSAKA: Well, I mean, I really used to just dislike night matches because you're, like, the last one there, and honestly I sleep kind of early.

I think I have a good night-match win streak going for me right now, so I'm not going to say anything negative about that.

Actually, it's good, because you get to sleep in for a really long time and then take a nap. So, yeah, I kind of enjoy it now.

Q. Up next for you is Danielle Collins. You have played her before. What are your thoughts on that one?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, to be honest, I remember I played her in Beijing. But I don't really remember too much specifics on that match.

But I do -- like, I know she played well in Australia, and I was remembering watching her semis against Kvitova. I think I'm just going to have to watch a lot of videos.

(Naomi's answers to questions in Japanese.)

NAOMI OSAKA: No, I mean, I wasn't really thinking about that. I was just thinking about I wanted to win this match because she beat me before.

Yeah, other than that, I was thinking about enjoying my time here, because I won this tournament last year and it's one of my favorite tournaments. No, I wasn't really thinking about ranking.

Yeah, I mean, I think it's one of those things where you want to do better than the set before. I just called him to, like, see from an outside perspective, because I can only ever judge myself from inside. So it's nice to get a second opinion.

I don't think I really have -- or maybe I'm misunderstanding.

Okay. My brain is not working.

Q. (IN ENGLISH) You looked quite relieved when you won, so what kind of emotion comes first when you won the match?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, "relief" is a good word, because I felt like she was playing well, really well towards the end, and it was kind of difficult to serve it out. But, yeah, I was relieved and also happy, because I remember how it was the last time I played her.

Yeah, I just wanted to win this match really bad.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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