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May 8, 2019

Naomi Osaka

Madrid, Spain

N. OSAKA/A. Sasnovich

6-2, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English.

Q. Can you talk through that match? You had some good speed, some good depth on those groundstrokes, good serving. Happy with it? Thoughts?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, I think I played well today. But I knew that I had to because I've played her twice before already and it was on hard court and then I didn't know what to expect today so I tried to stay as focussed as I could.

Q. After the Australian Open, there were periods where you were kind of distracted by everything going on. Now, like, for us, it seems quite normal, like you seem to be normal on court. Does it feel normal right now?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, I'm at a really good place right now. And I don't know, I feel like I'm having fun playing tennis again which is always a good thing for me and I always play well if I have that mentality.

Q. When you come into a tournament like Madrid, do you see yourself as the player to beat in the draw, as the favorite?
NAOMI OSAKA: I don't necessarily see myself as a favorite, but I see myself as a seed, so I shouldn't necessarily be losing in the first round. And I have high goals for myself, but I have always been that type of person. But definitely not a favorite.

Q. Coming into the tournament with the concerns about the ab and everything like that, how pleased were you to make the quarterfinals, to get this far in a big tournament like this?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I'm really happy. Of course, the ab was always sort of in the back of my mind, but that was more in the first round and then now I feel fine, so that's great.

But I don't know, like I'm not satisfied just stopping here and of course I want to go further, but yeah, I mean compared to last year, this is definitely an upgrade.

Q. You are a young video gamer. What is your opinion about e-sport competitions and do you think tennis can appeal to a younger audience?
NAOMI OSAKA: I actually went and watched Pro Overwatch, so I actually thought it was really interesting because they sold out the whole Brooklyn Arena and it was a different atmosphere from anything that I'm used to.

But at the same time, I don't know -- whatever makes people happy. Like, if it is selling, go for it, you know what I mean? If there's people that are avid watchers, then I see that there is no problem with it.

And then I heard that they might make it an Olympic sport or something. I think that that sounds really interesting and I kind of want to see what happens.

Q. The American press was talking about the decision you had to take because you hold both citizenships, both Japanese and American. And I don't know if you have made your mind or you have any comments about that?
NAOMI OSAKA: I mean, I made comments about it already so if you want to read those comments (laughing). Yeah, I'm kind of over-repeating myself all the time so... I mean, I'm not trying to be road, though. Sorry.

Q. You play either Belinda or Kateryna Kozlova next. Can you talk about what might it be like for you to face her now on clay courts instead of a hard court and then also if you know anything about Kozlova?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I think actually playing her on clay might be better for me because it's a slower surface and she hits really on the rise, so it might take away a little bit of her advantage.

And I don't really know too much about Kozlova. I know that she's been playing really well recently, so that's something that I have to look out for.

Q. The other day you said that grass courts for you are the lowest, below clay courts. As a Brit, that made me sad. What is it about grass courts that you necessarily don't like about them?
NAOMI OSAKA: The thing is, I'm kind of not giving it a fair chance. It's usually because the first tournament I play I'm really nervous on it. I don't like moving because it scares me.

But then, by the time Wimbledon comes around, I'm fine on it. And then I get, like, pretty good with my serve but the last two Wimbledons I played, I lost in the third round and the people made it to the finals, so I was sad. And it's just kind of me being a little bit bratty, but I guess I'll see what happens this year.

THE MODERATOR: Questions in Japanese.

(Naomi's answers to questions in Japanese)

NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I think I learned a lot from the match I played yesterday first of all. I think this match I just tried to not hit in the middle as much and make her move more and not be so aggressive on the second serve. I did try to hit two forehands on the second serve and they went out so after that, I just kept trying to place it.

I think just movement-wise, overall I've got a little bit better. I feel like I slide into the forehand now as opposed to sliding after I hit. I think that is one of the better things that I have done recently. And I think there was a match I played against, when I played Donna in Stuttgart. It was actually one of the best matches I played of the year. And we were both playing really well and we were running and running and I was sliding into the ball and I was, like, oh, you know, this could be fun.

I mean, actually, if I'm being a little bit picky, I feel like my serve can be better. I think usually the aces come in tight situations, but I feel like I shouldn't be in those tight situations in the first place. So, for me, this is a little bit like in the future for future reference. I feel like there is a lot of things that I could do better there. Today, definitely I really needed to serve well because she's a really good returner and she stepped in on my second serve so I really had to keep a high percentage on the first.

She played very high so if someone plays high on a clay court the bounce is a bit different from hard court, stuff like that, I guess. And also I feel like I was moving better today than I was yesterday. So, like side to side movement and up to back on clay is a little bit different from hard court. And you also have longer rallies so that is difficult. And you know I don't remember what people say (laughing). He said about today or yesterday? In general? Be positive (laughing), be committed. Stuff like that. Very vague.

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