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May 7, 2019

Naomi Osaka

Madrid, Spain

N. OSAKA/S. Sorribes Tormo

7-6, 3-6, 6-0

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English.

Q. A recent survey said you are among the top Japanese sports persons, popular in your culture, which is logical. That puts you in a position to become flag-bearer in Tokyo 2020. Do you expect that? Are you waiting for that?
NAOMI OSAKA: I mean, I'm not really thinking too much about it. Of course, it would be a really big honor. At the same time, I know there's a lot of people that... I don't know how to put this in like not a weird way (smiling). There's a lot of people that sort of dream of doing that.

For me, just to play the Olympics would be, like, completing my dream and, of course, to win. It's not something that's really on my radar right now.

Q. Did you know something about Sara Sorribes Tormo, the Spaniard, she is not as famous as Arantxa or Garbine, but what is your opinion about her game?
NAOMI OSAKA: I have played her before and I have practiced with her once before. But it was a couple of years ago. But, yeah, I remember that she of course runs really well. And I feel like her game is quite suited for clay. So, I actually knew it was going to be a hard match. I wanted it not to be. But I knew it was going to be.

Q. Can you talk through that match? It felt like in a lot of ways it was a story of three different sets. But a lot to learn I would suspect from a win like that in terms of how to play a player who wasn't missing a whole lot, was making you play through the rally almost every point?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, like that this match, it was basically on my racquet because she doesn't really have the game. She wasn't going for winners and I felt, like, it was either the point was ended by me making an unforced error, or me making a winner. So, I feel like in the first set, I got a bit lucky there.

And then in the second set, I just got up and then I just got a little bit unfocussed.

And then in the third set, I just, like, went zombie mode and then just thought of everything that I had to do to win and not necessarily the outcome, but just like the little things in between every game.

Q. You have had a bit of time with your coach and also you have had more time playing at this level. I'm wondering for you, what do you think are the most important things for you personally in terms of a player-coach relationship? Some players say it's good to befriend them. Some players say it is better to be strictly business. For you, the more you learn about yourself and being on tour, what is the most important formula for you?
NAOMI OSAKA: (Smiling) Yeah, I mean, for me I think the way my personality is set up, I can't just be like strict, strict with people. So, he's like, you know... Of course I respect everything that he tells me to do on the court. I'm not going to be like joking around with -- sometimes I'll be joking around (smiling). I'm not going to question anything that he says. Of course I'm going to put my attention into doing everything he says.

Like, off the court, it's not like I'm going to block his number until we get on the court next time (laughing). I feel it is easier for me to have, like, a respectful but friendly relationship with all the people in my team.

Q. I believe Frances was watching you. What's it like...
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, Big Bull (laughing).

Q. What was it like? You hit with them. What was that like? What is it like having a kid in your thoughts?
NAOMI OSAKA: I hit with him in Indian Wells and he was super nice because I don't really think guys want to hit with girls like that (smiling).

When I heard that he wanted to, I was like, okay, like for sure I'll do it, and then I watched his match yesterday. I had to leave after the first set, though, so I'm really glad that he won. But for me it's more like, I don't know, like you can see that he has like a lot of potential, right? And he always seems like he is enjoying himself so he doesn't have that like many people supporting him so I wanted to like support.

Q. You have got Aliaksandra Sasnovich next. You have obviously played her in the past, but do you take anything out of that US Open match, or do you go in fresh, and what do you expect?
NAOMI OSAKA: I mean, the US Open was on hard. Hard is like my home. So, of course, I'll think about it but for me it's completely new.

I don't really want to think that I should win my next match because, of course, she's a really great player. She has won two matches here and I feel like we both really want to win this match and we both have something to prove so I just think, like, I'll just see what happens tomorrow.

Q. I don't know if you have had time to, but did you see any pictures from the Met Gala? And if you did, any personal highlights for you?
NAOMI OSAKA: Someone told me Rhianna was going to be there but she wasn't (laughing). I don't know why I thought it was you that told me (smiling). Yeah, I mean, I saw Cindy. She is so pretty, man (smiling). I saw her and then I like woke up in the middle of the night and saw it and then I just went to sleep and I forgot to check again, so I will definitely look later.

I'm kind of confused because wasn't there camping?

Q. (Off microphone).
NAOMI OSAKA: I would have never thought of some of those outfits. But okay.

Q. On Frances, you also hit with Chris Eubanks and Andy this year. How do you feel when you go up against them, just when you are not moving? Do you feel like your ball has penetration against some of those players?
NAOMI OSAKA: For me, I think I hit at a decent speed so it is okay for them, too. So, it's not like they don't get a practice out of it. I think guys are very different from girls because when they play they don't necessarily like -- I don't know how to say -- like think about hitting hard. I feel like their point is more structured, like they know exactly what they -- I don't want to say I don't know what I'm doing (smiling). But they, like, hit it hard at the exact right moment and I feel like sometimes when I watch girls practice, they just hit every ball as hard as they can compared to guys which it seems like they are like trying to go over the ball, or they are trying to slice it and stuff like that. It is always very educational when I hit with guys.

Q. With these two wins over Cibulkova and now Sorribes Tormo, both very good players who are comfortable on this surface. Do you feel the confidence growing in terms of your belief of what you can accomplish during this section of the season?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, I think I got more wins this year than I have the entire season last year (smiling) so that is definitely a good thing. For me, I just wanted to grow comfortable on clay and I think I have. So it is looking good for the French. And honestly all I want to do is have fun and I think I'm capturing that spirit again, so, yeah, it feels good to be not beaten yet (smiling).

Q. You are the real No. 1 of course in Japan. But your relation with the federation or the other players, or are you more freelance, or do you have good relationship with Japanese players?
NAOMI OSAKA: I would assume so. I don't really talk to people so (laughing). I mean, I say hi and stuff, but I don't really have any like best friends on tour (smiling). This is drama, isn't it? You are going to make this drama (laughing).

Q. I thought you would play, but you didn't play Fed Cup and so on?
NAOMI OSAKA: I played Fed Cup last year but not this year because it was between the hard court season and I got really sick during that time so yeah. But I talked to Kei, does that count for anything?

Q. Yes.
THE MODERATOR: Questions in Japanese.

(Naomi's answers to questions in Japanese)

NAOMI OSAKA: I think today it was just a fitness test because, of course, like I feel I'm comfortable on clay but today, like the way that she played today, is so different from anyone else that I have faced, like the balls go quite high and it really felt like she wasn't trying to go for anything at all. She was just waiting till I made a mistake.

In the first two sets I think I did a lot and then in the second set I just kind of calmed down and yeah, do what I normally do.

I thought today instead of... Of course patience because I had to wait for the right ball from her. But I think I was more or less and on, like, where I'm trying to hit and point structure. Like if I hit normal cross-court with her she's completely fine but then I tried to open it up, you know, like hit an angle and hit down the line and it's easier for me from there, so I guess kept trying to do that more.

Actually, I have been able to do that for a while (smiling). Yeah, like her balls were very high up and I wanted to take time away so that's mostly the reason why I did that. It was not like I have been saving a special skill or anything.

Today, I'm very tired. It was a fun match. Usually you don't know it until you finish it. But the fun matches are always the tough ones.

No, I wouldn't say it wasn't because I wasn't patient. It was just there reached a point where I knew off of every serve she was going to hit a high ball, so I was trying to take the time away and, for me, it felt like a smart play (laughing). For you guys, maybe not (smiling).

I think the toughest thing about clay it is like sometimes you get uneven bounces because, you know, it's a lumpy surface. Sometimes the balls hit the line and it skids, stuff like that. But nothing really that bad. And I don't know though because I am actually starting to like clay. Grass is like the lowest. Of course, hard is here and then clay could be in the middle now.

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