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August 31, 2019

Naomi Osaka

New York, NY, USA

N. OSAKA/C. Gauff

6-3, 6-0

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Congratulations for what you did especially at the end of the match, asking her to come with you. Did you think immediately to do that? Was it instinctive?
NAOMI OSAKA: No, I mean, it was kind of instinctive because when I shook her hand, I saw that she was kind of tearing up a little. Then it reminded me how young she was.

For me, at least when I lose, I just come into the locker room and I cry, then I do press, like, here. I love you guys, but it's not the greatest (smiling). Then I was thinking normal people don't actually watch the press conferences unless they're, like, fan fans.

The people that are out there, they're probably going to just stay and watch the next person who's playing, then they go home, and they wouldn't know immediately what's on her mind.

I was just thinking, like, it would be nice for her to address the people that came and watched her play. They were cheering for her. Yeah, I mean, for me, it was just something that was, I don't know, instinctive I guess.

Q. Maybe at the beginning of the year you were expressing this want for people to focus on the tennis, not other aspects of you. You've been in the spotlight a lot. Has that influenced how you think about moments like these with Coco?
NAOMI OSAKA: I mean, not really. For me, I don't know, that wasn't on my mind, I guess. For me, I just thought about what I wanted her to feel leaving the court. Like, I wanted her to have her head high, not walk off the court sad. I want her to, like, be aware that she's accomplished so much and she's still so young.

Honestly, like, I know that you guys are kind of coming at her with love, too. But I feel like the amount of media on her right now is kind of insane for her age. I just want her to, like, take care of herself.

Q. What impresses you most about her?
NAOMI OSAKA: I think for sure her movement is one of the biggest things on her game. Of course, her serve, she can serve at a very high pace. So, yeah, I am very interested to see how she develops.

Q. How about as a person?
NAOMI OSAKA: As a person? She seems like a sweetheart. I haven't actually really talked to her for an extended length. This tournament was the most I've ever talked to her. But we kind of didn't talk today or the day before because we had this match.

But, yeah, she seems like a really intelligent girl, so...

Q. After your match you said you felt more focused for this match. Why is it that? Was it more of a challenge?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, for me, it was mostly I haven't played a night match on Ashe since last year. I felt the atmosphere was, of course, going to be very different. I think the day crowds and the night crowds are very different here.

Yeah, I mean, everyone was very into this match I think. Yeah, for me, I just wanted to see how she played. I think that was the biggest thing. I think it's been a while since I've been -- how do I say? I'm not the challenger, I guess.

Q. (Question about Kristie Ahn.)
NAOMI OSAKA: I say 'Kristie Ahn', even though she always tells me it's 'Ann'.

For me, that's also something that's very incredible. Even though she walks around like she's Bionic Woman with all that tape (laughter).

Yeah, literally everyone knows she's one of my only friends on tour. We went to go eat Korean food before this, so maybe that was good luck. Yeah, she's awesome. The fact that she's playing so well now, and I hope that she continues to keep playing well.

Q. If you had some thoughts for Coco on how to handle things, what might you suggest to her?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, for me, like, I would never suggest anything to her. I feel like everyone's path is different, so I could never suggest anything to her without knowing, like, what she's been through.

For me, obviously I'm very odd, so the things that I suggest to her might not work. But just to keep a good group of people around you. I think that's the number one thing. Yeah, just to enjoy yourself.

Q. You got a bit emotional on the court when you were talking to Coco's parents. What made it emotional for you? In a way, do you relate to her?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, actually, like, during the walk-on, I almost, like, cried a little bit because she was hugging her dad good-bye. Not, like, good-bye, but before the match, she, like, hugs her dad. I was looking at that. Oh, my God, don't do this to me before the match.

Here's the thing. Like, I literally was training at the same place as her. Like, we would never hit together, but it was always just us putting in the most amount of hours. She was always with her dad just practicing. Honestly, I think she was practicing more than me.

Then I was with my dad. Just when I saw them hug, I was, like, Oh, my God. I was like, Yeah, where's my dad at? My dad doesn't care about me (laughter). Then I started getting a little bit emotional. I need to put my game face on.

Yeah, I mean, for me, it's crazy to me to see how far she's come in such a little amount of time.

Q. Did you get any sense which way the crowd was going? Did you feel it was even for you and Coco?
NAOMI OSAKA: I mean, honestly, I don't really pay attention too much. Like, I know for a fact, like, it was just loud. That's all I knew. I tell everyone this, but I'm kind of deaf when I play. Like, I don't really, like, sort of sense what's going on on the outside.

Yeah, definitely I wouldn't really say anything about that.

Q. In Cincinnati you made a joke while we were asking you about young players looking up to you, saying they were inspired by you. You said, I got to put the hammer down, I'm not an old lady, that sort of thing. You're now 3-0 against teenagers this year. You've played well against them. What was your preparation and mindset here? Even in the second set, you were really scrapping to try to get that bagel.
NAOMI OSAKA: Hmm... Preparation? I don't really have -- for me, I think the thing is you have to treat them as they are. You can't think about age when you play against someone. They fought their way to this spot. They deserve it. Why would I be thinking about how old they are? I think that's the number one thing some people get twisted.

Yeah, I feel like even when you play younger people, it's even more of a challenge because they fight -- I don't want to say this, but they might fight harder. They want to have that, like, statement tournament or whatever.

For me, I just kept telling myself to keep fighting. Literally, that's what I said during the match. I just kept saying, Fight, fight.

Q. You're going to play against Bencic the third time this year. How well do you know her on and off the court?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, for me playing her is always super challenging. I'm unsure if I've ever won a match. I know that I lost the two times we played earlier this year.

For me, yeah, I just expect a fight. She doesn't really ever give up. She kind of fights for every point. I know that's going to be a really difficult match for me.

Q. How close do you think you are to a level where you can win the tournament again?
NAOMI OSAKA: Okay, level that I can win the tournament again? The thing with me, though, is I get better as the tournament goes on. Like, it's not even a skill sort of thing, it's just I trust myself more.

I mean, the last two times I was in the round of 16, I won it, if that answers -- I don't want to say that. That's bold. Don't say that (laughter).

Listen, I'm just out here trying my best. I don't know. I'm just going with the flow at this rate. I've never defended a Grand Slam before. We out here, you know. We're just having fun.

Q. We're living in a very brutal, cruel, sometimes fierce world. We are still human beings. As ambassador of the sport, No. 1 player, if you ask yourself do you wish to see more and more these kind of moments, men's and women's side, on the tour?
NAOMI OSAKA: I mean, yeah. But also, I don't know, I don't want to be quoted.

Here is my thing, though. Tennis is a solo sport. Of course there are people that are very fierce on and off the court. I think that for me, like, I always feel for the person because I know what it's like to just have to go play a match, lose the match, then you've got to go and do press. It's just terrible.

I think that I don't know what a Naomi moment is. Hopefully there won't be many of those. Yeah, whatever I do, I try to tell myself to just do it from the heart.

(Naomi's answers to questions in Japanese.)

NAOMI OSAKA: I mean, for me, I think I -- sorry. I'm listening to the background noise for some reason.

For me, I think that every match is super different. I can never really label how much more confidence I get throughout the tournament. But I know it increases because for me, I just get more comfortable as time goes on. It's not necessarily a confidence thing, it's just more of a comfortability. I think that would be the main.

Yeah, I mean, I feel like of course we're going to play multiple times in the future. She's so young. That's definitely going to happen.

I mean, I think for me, she seems very intelligent, so I think there's automatically things that she's going to change the next time that we play. I'm not necessarily looking forward to that, but I think it will be fun for you guys to watch.

Yeah, I feel like if we do ever happen to play in the finals of a Grand Slam, that's definitely going to be a very huge memory for both of us.

I think that my return was much better than my serve today. I feel like my serve has kind of been letting me down. Well, the first-serve percentage the past couple of matches... I know the reason why, and hopefully it can change because I think that my next round, I definitely need to put more first serves in the court.

But, yeah, definitely I think I was making a lot of returns today. That really helped me.

Really? No, I actually don't really look at stats like that. That's a good one. I can frame that on my wall. Can shove that in J.'s face, telling me we need to practice returns. Practice what returns? I made 100% (smiling).

But, yeah, I think that's something that I've always been working on the past couple of months, just to, like, not do something crazy on the returns, just kind of keep it in play. That's good to hear. Thank you.

Wow, I should get a spreadsheet, fill that out.

I mean, I think I was 16, 18, 19, around the later teenage years. How old is she now? 15. Oh, my God, she was like 10 or something. Okay, so she was around 10. I feel like we would get there around the same time, maybe like 8 or something. But she would train by herself, then she would train with other people. That was the crazy part to me. She was, like, 10.

But your question, I need to fill out a survey type question, so I hope I answered that.

Yeah, I mean, for me, I was just happy throughout this entire match. I think I kept a very high level of focus. I don't know, like for me, it's been so long. I honestly think it's been since Australian Open finals that I was that focused and I was fighting that hard for every point.

Like, the times that I made a mistake or that she hit a winner, like, it just kind of really made me happy. I just couldn't help but laugh because it really felt like a battle. I think that's what I practice for, it's literally to battle.

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