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May 28, 2019

Naomi Osaka

Paris, France

N. OSAKA/A. Schmiedlova

0-6, 7-6, 6-1

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. It looked like a bit of an emotional roller coaster points in that match. Wondering, what did you make of the first set and how you were feeling towards the end of the second and how you turned it around?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, for me I think this is the most nervous I have ever been my entire life during a match. I think you could see that in the first set. I was literally not hitting any balls in the court.

For me, today was weird because usually the nerves go away, but it kind of stayed the entire match. Then I just felt like it was a fight of willpower. Yeah, I managed to win in the end, so...

Q. Thanks for your candor. Why was this the most nervous you have ever felt, if you could break that down for us?
NAOMI OSAKA: I mean, I can give you logical reasons, but I'm not really a logical person. So it might be something else (smiling).

Logical reasons, first time playing a Grand Slam as No. 1. Won the last two, so I kind of want to win this one really bad.

I have never played on Chatrier before. This was my first time.

And, yeah, I kind of feel like I'm having the thought of wanting to prove myself again, so...

Q. Late in the second set, when you hit wide on a forehand for her to break, looked like you turned around to your box and gave them a thumbs up, gave a sarcastic thumbs up...
NAOMI OSAKA: You think so?

Q. What was that about? What were you thinking at the time?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I was just thinking, like, I have so many shots that I normally feel like I would hit well, and then it was just one of those, like -- I was sort of just -- what was my thought process behind that? It was definitely sarcastic. I was kind of thinking, Do you guys see this amazing tennis I'm playing right here (smiling)? Thumbs up.

I don't even know what I wanted them to do. I felt kind of bad after I did it. It was more like I had to put my emotions somewhere.

Yeah, for me today was a bit tough, because, like, it's one of those matches where you're not playing well but you have to find a way to win. For me, I've just begun learning how to do that.

Q. You mentioned emotions. From the outside, for us, this is kind of the second time we have seen you kind of get emotional in a match and then be able to snap out of that and fight back. I'm wondering, how are you able to do that? Have you thought about that? Did the Australian Open final come to your mind at all? Because you also got emotional there after the second set and then bounced back.
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, for me, this is completely different than the Australian Open, because there I felt like I was playing good. Like, I could control what was going on. Here it felt like I wasn't sure what was going on when the ball went off my racquet. So, yeah, I just -- for me, the thoughts that were crossing my mind were, like, could I live -- well, of course I can live with myself, but can I sleep at night knowing that I maybe could have done something more.

So, yeah, that was the thoughts.

Q. I think you recently said that when you reached the second round of the Australian Open you phoned your mum and invited her over. I think you said, Come on, watch me play. I'm going to win the Australian Open. I think she said she was going to shop instead, I'm not sure. But can you tell us, have you phoned your mum and invited her over to Roland Garros? If so, have you told her who will win? Because we'd love to know.
NAOMI OSAKA: No, I mean, she's here. But I didn't invite her. She invited herself (smiling).

But, yeah, for me, I don't think I would play this tournament if I wasn't trying to win, especially given how the last slam went. I feel like I have to believe in myself, and I feel like that's what I did in this match, even though things weren't going well.

Yeah, I think every match I'm learning how to do that.

Q. You said you had never played on the Philippe Chatrier. Do you have the opportunity to practice on this court before in the previous days?
NAOMI OSAKA: I practiced on it once, but for 30 minutes or so. Yeah. Oh, your face? You did not look impressed (smiling).

Q. You had incredible performances in many places in your career, but certainly at the US Open final and again in Melbourne. Can you talk about the importance for a tennis player to come back to make corrections on court, to fight through difficulties. And do you think that's a strength of yours or a place you're learning?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, for me, I think it's really important for tennis players to learn, especially since we have so many opportunities to do that. Like, we have games and we have sets and we even have points if you're really good.

So, yeah, I definitely think it's one of my strengths, but at the same time, I think it might be a bit of a weakness or a liability, because I overthink most of the time. Because there is always a problem, but then you think that you have multiple solutions instead of just one, so...

Q. Could you take us forward to your second-round match? No vacation there with Victoria Azarenka.
NAOMI OSAKA: I didn't know that. Okay. I have played her last year on clay.

I don't know. I mean, she's been playing really well recently, and there is no way that it's going to be a similar match to the one I played her in Rome last year. So I'm expecting, like, one of the hardest matches of the year. And other than that, I don't really know too much, because you sort of -- you're the one that sprung that on me.

Q. Regarding the hand injury you had in Rome, have you played pain-free today?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, today was completely fine. I didn't feel anything. Probably looked like I felt something, but, no, it was fine today.

Q. You said earlier that you felt like you had to prove yourself. As you noted, you're No. 1 and won the last two slams. Why do you feel that? Do you mean to yourself or to other people?
NAOMI OSAKA: I'm not going to say anything. But you know. Yeah, I mean, you know you know, you know what I mean? There is, like, a few people in here -- okay, I'm just going to keep saying the same thing.

Yeah, for me, I feel like this year is -- it's been long but short at the same time. We're only in the clay season. Like, some people will say that I had a bad year after Australian Open. I don't know where, but apparently, apparently I did.

Yeah, it's kind of where -- I don't know, where I think I want to do better.

Q. When you win a match like this that you were so close to losing, just a couple of points from losing, how much belief can you draw from that? Because I kind of think back to that match against Shuai in Melbourne where it was a similar situation, close to going out, and then you seemed to really draw a lot of belief and strength from that. Does it make you feel almost invincible in a way, that you may be not playing as well but you still manage to come through?
NAOMI OSAKA: It doesn't make me feel invincible, but it does make me have hope, I guess, for, like, the days that I do play well. Of course it would be easier to play matches like this. But for me, instead of thinking about the match I played in Australian Open, I think about the match I played in Germany against Donna. For me, that's probably one of the best comebacks I have had.

Q. A little earlier you said you weren't a logical person and gave three really good points about today's match. To get to be No. 1 and do what you do, you have to have a lot of smarts. Is that logic? Is that something else? Talk about your mental approach to the game.
NAOMI OSAKA: Well, when I'm not extremely stressed and everything seems like it's coming 100 miles per hour, I try to think rationally, like, during the games and whatever. Like, for me, I play percentage and stuff. Like, if I'm serving and -- okay, if I'm serving on the deuce side, right, and 70% of the time I hit in going wide, the rest of the 30 is, like, key, and then, you know, rationally, people would go to the 70%. But, no, no, you've got to go to the 30%.

You guys are so not funny. (Laughter.) I don't know if I laid that joke bad, but, like, wow, nothing?

Okay, well, how do I explain better? There's just a lot of thinking. Like, you know a Venn diagram, how it overlaps and whatever? That's kind of what my brain does during matches. But I'm pretty sure a lot of people have that, so... My vibe just killed (smiling).

THE MODERATOR: Questions in Japanese, please.

(Naomi's answers to Japanese questions in English.)

NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, I think a part of it is no one wants to lose in the first round of a Grand Slam, especially me. I feel like I'm thinking too much about the number next to my name right now, and instead of feeling free and having fun like I normally do in Grand Slams, which is something that I have learned from today. But the same time, everything that I'm experiencing right now is very new. Like, I have never been in this position, so I can't really say.

Yeah, I mean, for me, I just thought that I would do anything in my power to win. And I think I started grunting, too. I'm not so sure about that. Normally I don't, but I think I was just really -- like, I was really going to run for everything and just try to push every ball back in the court if that's what I had to do. So that was kind of my mindset, approaching those two games.

Yeah, I mean, the reason is because I wasn't -- I don't think I was moving my feet. So that means I didn't set up properly. In turn, that means I couldn't hit the shots that I normally would. Yeah, the reason that I wasn't moving my feet is because I was super nervous, super stressed. Just made my feet heavy.

No, actually, I complain a lot in Japanese (smiling). But I mutter it, so you guys probably don't hear it. But, yeah, usually when I'm complaining on the court, it's in Japanese because I don't want people to understand the English. Yeah.

Yeah, because I won Australian with the two pearls, and then I was just -- like, I was on a little bit of a losing streak, so I decided I wanted to switch. This one is French. It says "Oui." So I was, like, That seems interesting.

Yeah, I mean, for me, when I do stuff like that, since I concentrate so much on the court, it kind of takes me out of it and makes me remember, like, you know, I should be happy that I'm here, of course. This is a Grand Slam. Everyone wants to play it. Yeah, just to have more fun.

I wasn't really having that much fun in the second or first set, but towards the end of the third, I felt like I was playing better, so of course my mood lightened up, which is a little bit childish, and hopefully I can learn how to have fun during the hard times, too, but...

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