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August 29, 2019

Naomi Osaka

New York, NY, USA

N. OSAKA/M. Linette

6-2, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You got through a bit quicker than you did in the first round. A little bit less challenge. Talk about what you were able to accomplish today.
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, for me I think one of the biggest things when I play her is just sort of knowing that she likes to play consistent, and she moves pretty well. So I just try to, like, get her moving and sort of -- what is it? What is the term? Insert. Not insert. Assert myself.

Q. And you were able to obviously accomplish that today? How good did you feel out on the court in terms of doing what you set out to do?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, I feel like I had my moments where I played really well. Of course there were moments that I didn't play as well as I wanted to. But I think the main thing for me was that I was able to adjust whenever I figured out something was going wrong, so I think I'm heading in the right direction.

Q. You got down in the second set pretty quickly. What turned that around? You were shaking your legs.
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, I just think I got broken because I wasn't doing much on her -- like, I served the ball. She gave me, like, a fluff -- it wasn't fluffy. It wasn't the hardest ball, and I just sort of sat back on that instead of immediately going after it. So I think I played a little bit too defensively.

So I just told myself to, you know, look in the mirror and notice that I'm the player that's supposed to be more aggressive. I think that that's what I did better throughout the second set.

Q. Your box was kind of star-studded today with new faces. Did that change at all the pressure that you felt having to perform in front of people?
NAOMI OSAKA: Hmm. Hmm. Change the... I mean, I don't feel like it's pressure, but I do feel like I did want to play well.

I don't know. It's just funny to me. You know, like, last year compared to this year there is no way, like, Kobe would sit in my box (smiling). Yeah, Kaepernick, too. It's just crazy who you run into in life.

For me, it wasn't pressure. It was just like I really didn't want them to sit in the sun too long, honestly. That was the thing that was on my mind. I was, like, I don't really want to play a third set.

Q. Coco had talked about you the other day, said how nice you were to her. What do you feel about Coco on court, off the court, and how much would you like to play her in the next round?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, off the court she seems like me. Well, she seems a little bit more, like, she knows what she's doing (smiling). I just mean, like, I'm very quiet. I've gotten actually a bit talkative recently, though.

But, yeah, I saw her in the locker room. She wasn't really talking to anyone. I was, like, Oh, looks familiar. I'm just going to talk to her. I know she's super young, and I know it's sort of hard to transition.

I wasn't even a junior, but I can only imagine as a junior you play these tournaments with your friends, and then you come to the pros and you don't know anyone. I just, like, Oh, she's a really talented girl. I would love for her to come out of her shell a little bit. I just realize that's probably what people say about me, too.

Yeah, she's super sweet and I would love to play her, of course. For me, when I hear people talking about someone, I want to have the opportunity to play them just to assess it for myself. You know what I mean? So, yeah, definitely would love that, but at the same time I know she's going to have to get through a tough opponent. I'm fine with whoever I play.

Q. Going back to your player box, how well have you gotten to know Colin and Kobe? What kind of career advice have they offered?
NAOMI OSAKA: I mean, I know Kobe. This is actually the first time I have ever met Colin, and it wasn't even through me. So, yeah, I mean, everybody knows Kobe gives me real-life advice. He's someone I look up to as an athlete and also as a person. I'm really grateful that I even have the opportunity to, like, talk to him and stuff.

Q. I don't know if you had a chance to see it, but there was a great tribute to Althea Gibson earlier in the week. Curious if you have any remembrances or conversations about her, folks talking about her legacy?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I saw there was an unveiling of the statue, right? For me, I think it's really important for someone that is sort of like a trailblazer in this sport, remembering all their accomplishments and just the mark that they made. I think that was very important.

Yeah, I mean, I feel like everyone kind of knows who Althea Gibson is. I'm not sure if the younger -- I probably missaid her name?

Q. No, you got it right. Do you remember when you first heard of her?
NAOMI OSAKA: No, you know, there was this old VCR of, like, I don't know what it was, the History of Tennis or something, and then it came on, do-do-do-do and there were people hitting with wooden racquets and stuff. She was in that VCR, that's how I first, like, saw her. VHS. Sorry.

Q. Colin is obviously known for believing in certain causes. Curious what causes you most believe?
NAOMI OSAKA: Every time you ask me a question I hold my breath. I'm so scared.

What causes do I believe in? I mean, for me, it's going to sound corny as heck, but, like, I just believe in being nice to people. Like, for me I just want to treat people -- treat people like how you want to be treated. Not like that, but just, like, I don't know.

I don't know how anyone's day has been. I don't know if, like, the circumstances that led to them being the way they are. So for me I would never judge a person, especially when I haven't walked in their shoes. And I feel, like -- I don't know.

Someone told me that for me to take one second out of my day to sign someone's ball could be the highlight of their day, and they could have had a really bad day. So for me I took that really into perspective. And I don't know. Just want to, like, spread kindness and positivity even though sometimes I don't do that on the court (smiling). But I'm working on it.

Q. Second time at this tournament I saw a girl so happy to see you that she starts crying. What's that do for you?
NAOMI OSAKA: For me, I'd rather people don't cry. It kind of makes me emotional, too. Yeah, I mean, it's really crazy for me. I know, like, everyone said that the past year has been, like, insane. I think it's moments like that that sort of make me realize it.

I'm really grateful, and I'm honestly really humbled by it, because I know as a kid I had my favorite players, you know. They're kind of still playing right now. Yeah, it's crazy.

Q. Kei said last week he hasn't decided yet but if he wants to play Olympic mixed doubles he would talk to you. I know it's a year away but have you thought about whether you would play? And if he came to you, what would your response be?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, so the thing is anyone that knows my doubles track record knows that I'm down.

So the thing is I would play. Like, I would definitely play with him. I just -- I would actually need to practice doubles for the first time in my life. Because you cannot play mixed doubles with Kei Nishikori and lose in the first round of the Olympics in Tokyo. That would be the biggest -- like, I would cry. I would actually cry for losing a doubles match.

Yeah, definitely I think that that would be so, like, historic in a way. And I would love to do it, but I need to practice my doubles.

Q. I don't know if you know, but you have became quite a sensation in Poland. You have developed a big following because of the impromptu practice session with Iga Swiatek. How much fun did you have at that practice? And since you played with her in Toronto and played with Magda today, which one is the tougher opponent?
NAOMI OSAKA: I loved your question until the end. Hmm. It was beautiful.

Yeah, I mean, Iga is a cutie. Like, she's a cutie pie. You guys have to protect her over there. She's too innocent. She'd be smiling all around the place. I'm, like, Calm down. She's super nice, she's so talented, so respectful. She plays so well.

I'm really curious to see how she develops as a player. I think that everyone is really different, and I think that I've never really seen anyone sort of -- not move, I can't speak English, so I'm going to say move. I have never seen anyone move the way she does. It's going to be interesting to see how she grows as a person and also as an athlete.

Tougher opponent? I've only played Iga once. I've played Magda three times. Lost to her once and beaten her twice. I think I would have to play Iga a couple more times.

Q. How much different did it feel to play today versus the opening match? Did it relax you a little bit?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, for me, going into this match I was very calm, because I was thinking there is no way my nerves could be worse than they were the day before.

For me, I also had that comfortability of knowing I have played Magda before. I've never played Blinkova before this time, so there is also that added stress not knowing what she can do.

For me, that stress was taken away today, because I have played Magda in Australia most recently, which was a hard court. So, yeah, I came in pretty confident with my abilities, and I think that showed a little bit.

(Naomi's answers to questions in Japanese.)

NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, I think definitely writing that and posting it before the start of the US Open Series really helped me relax my mind, because it sort of, in a sort of selfish way, it made me able to make clear to everyone where I was headspace-wise.

And for me I think the biggest thing was, like, I put a lot of pressure on myself to be perfect. I think that sort of makes other people expect a lot from me, too. So I just wanted to clear the air in that way.

Yeah, I mean, for me I'm not really thinking too much anymore. Like, I used to think about everything, you know. I used to think, like, if I have this amount of points, I can stay No. 1. If I have this amount of points, I can, you know, get into this tournament or whatever. I think the me right now just wants to play really good tennis. For me, that's the foundation of getting to the top, and I think somewhere along the way in Europe I lost that.

So, yeah, I feel like I'm having fun again. I'm not really caring too much about rankings or points. And I know that I said that if you win a tournament that automatically makes you No. 1, but I'm not even thinking about winning this tournament right now. Like, I'm thinking about my next match, and I know it's either going to be Coco or Babos. So I sort of feel free.

Start of the US Open Series when I wrote the letter.

Yeah, I mean, I think for me the last match I played compared to this match was that I'm more aware of my surroundings, or at least, like, point structure. I know that people don't really want to hit forehand crosscourts with me. Same goes with backhands sometimes. So, yeah, I feel like every rally that I play I have a chance. So it just really depends on if I want to dictate or not.

Yeah, I mean, for me, I don't really have a message. I don't know. Like, when I just see little kids at my matches, it just makes me feel like I'm, like, Oh, look at my babies (smiling). It's so crazy to me. I just remember it feels like yesterday I was a kid here at Kids' Day, trying to get to the front row of a really good match.

So, yeah, message, I don't know. I mean, I'm not really the wisest person out there, so I wouldn't really have anything to say to them. I'm just -- what am I? Just grateful and happy, if that's a message.

I mean, I think it varies on the person. We all kind of get the same kit, you know what I mean? Like practice clothes-wise. It didn't really vary too much. But I know that there are some people that really care about fashion. I'm one of those people (smiling). And then there are some people that are just, like, comfort over everything, which I'm also one of those people. Honestly, it just depends.

For me, I just think that you don't really get the chance to dress up that much as an athlete. That's why I kind of go ham when I have the chance. Nike, they have some really cool practice stuff. That's why I kind of, you know, be doing the most sometimes.

Yeah, I mean, I really wouldn't know. I'm not really in the locker room like that. I don't really talk to people. I have my headphones on all the time. Yeah, I mean, for me I think the people that I talk to, they treat me the same. That sounded really strong and weird. Okay. The people that I talk to, they treat -- okay, they treat me the same as they have treated me this entire time, like as I was coming up. So I don't feel like they're acting different because I'm No. -- why did I quote that? Because I'm No. 1.

Yeah, I don't know. I don't think there is a different atmosphere. For me, I feel like I just go in and go out, and that's what people know me for now.

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