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August 24, 2020

Naomi Osaka

New York, New York, USA

Press Conference

N. OSAKA/K. Muchova

6-7, 6-4, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. It's obviously been a long time since you played a match, but somehow both of you were really hitting quite clean. At least that's how it looked from the outside. How did it feel on court, and did you surprise yourself at all?

NAOMI OSAKA: Honestly, I was really nervous. So I didn't feel that free, and I had a lot of doubts in my mind in the first set.

But I think in the second set I felt more, like, at peace with myself. I don't know. I realized that, like, that there are certain balls that I need to go for.

So for me I feel like I just learned a lot throughout the entire course of the match, and hopefully it's something that I can do at a quicker time rate.

Q. Why do you think you won today? Your first match back, a three-setter. What was the difference between winning and losing for you today?

NAOMI OSAKA: For me, I think the difference was probably attitude. And like, yeah, it kind of boils down to attitude, because for me I feel like I'm more open-minded when I'm calm, so maybe if I was upset I wouldn't have been able to apply the things that I knew I was doing wrong.

Q. Is this the type of match you felt you needed with the US Open a week away to kind of break the ice and get you prepared mentally for the rest of this tournament and prepare for next week as well?

NAOMI OSAKA: Honestly, I'm not really sure. For me, I trained really hard during the entire quarantine, so I don't know. I definitely didn't want to lose my first match back, but I was aware that, like, the circumstances are completely different from anything that I have ever played.

But I'm completely not thinking about the US Open right now. I'm just thinking about this tournament and everything that I have to do in order to win here.

Q. Did it feel kind of weird playing with no fans there to cheer for you and to feed off of the crowd?

NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, for me, I'm the type of person that I thought it would be weird, because I really love, you know, energy and, like, big courts and just having fans around.

But when I started playing the match, I remembered that, like, when I play I don't focus on anything, like, outside the court. So honestly, it was just, like, me and her. I didn't really focus too much on, like, the fact that we had no fans or anything.

Q. You're somebody who, you talk about your thoughts wandering during practices, maybe matches too, about mesothelioma commercials or whatever else. I'm wondering if having all this quiet around during the match if your mind is quiet also or if your mind is also louder because there is nothing else to compete with it for your attention?

NAOMI OSAKA: I would say there were moments where I felt it wandering, in the second set especially. But I just kept telling myself to reel it back in.

I think you can tell the moments I wander, because I start laughing more. It's a good and bad thing, because I feel like I'm having fun, but at the same time, like, I need to immediately go back into the next point.

So, yeah, I think for me the most interesting thing during the entire match, like, on a mind wander sort of topic, is I was trying to, like, talk to the umpire and find out exactly what are the circumstances for certain rules that they have now. So it was funny.

Q. Like coaching, you mean?

NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, like coaching and stuff (smiling).

Q. Just in terms of laughing, what's your sort of enjoyment level being on court in a match right now? What's your fun level? That's something you have been open about how that can go up and down. For you right now, what's the joy meter like? Let's call it that.

NAOMI OSAKA: I mean, it's pretty high, I would say, just because I have been practicing for so long, and I'm the type that doesn't like practice. I like matches. I feel like, you know, there's something that I can finally do with all of the time I spent practicing.

So, yeah, it's pretty high. I don't know if it's at a full 10, but it's pretty up there.

Q. At least an 8?


Q. On practice, Andy Murray was just saying he's terrible in practice. He'll lose to many lower-ranked players, and he just beat Zverev. In your case, how would you say, after so much practice, how would you say you are at it?

NAOMI OSAKA: I would say that I did play a lot of practice sets in LA. Tommy Haas beat my 6-0. It was so embarrassing.

But, yeah, I would say I'm not the greatest at practice sets, but I do feel like I win the ones that I'm supposed to.

But also, for me, I play to compete for something. So I feel like if I'm just practicing just to like practice a practice set, my motivation isn't really there. So, yeah.

Q. And about the wildcard, was there any reason why you needed it in the end? Did you sign up late or something?

NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah. So I'm not the one that signs myself in. So the person that signed me in forgot about the new rule.

Q. Someone else was to blame?

NAOMI OSAKA: LOL (smiling).

Q. You mentioned Tommy Haas. I was doing some work on Roger Federer, and in the past you said he's your favorite player. Could you just talk about Roger, your feelings about him, what he's brought to the game, why he's your favorite?

NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, I would just say for me, like, Nadal and Federer, just their entire rivalry, I liked watching it when I was little. Seeing how friendly they are off the court, for me that was something that was really cool.

I definitely think -- because I used to live in Florida, so I went to the Sony Open, Sony Ericsson, which is the Miami tournament now, so it was just really cool to walk around and run to his practice court when everyone found out that he was practicing and just see his demeanor and stuff.

Because for me, like, just how you project yourself is something that's really cool. Because I found myself watching some players that were really negative and thinking to myself, like, wow, I don't think I would ever root for them. For me, that's how I try to outwardly be more positive. I don't know.

Q. Speaking of running and Roger, didn't you almost once knock him down or bowl him over in a stadium when you were running around?

NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, it was in Australia. Yeah, so it was in Australia. I'm not sure. There wasn't a sign that said no running in the halls. I was kind of late to my match, so, yeah, I almost caused, like, a catastrophic injury to a sports legend. Oopsy. It was fine, though.

Q. Looking ahead to Dayana Yastremska, I don't think you have played each other yet, but can you talk about the challenge of playing her?

NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, so I actually don't know too much about her. I heard that she's a power player, though. That's the only thing that's on my mind. But for the most part, I think I'm just going to focus on myself.

Yeah, to be honest, I haven't -- Wim usually tells me stuff, so we haven't talked about it.

Q. Just in terms of court speed, it's been a discussion and everybody has kind of given their thoughts on whether they like it or not. How are you finding the conditions in New York this year?

NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, the courts are a little bit faster, but I think it's just something that I need to adjust to and everyone is playing on the same court. So I can't really complain about it.

I don't know. It's definitely very interesting.

(Answers to questions in Japanese.)

NAOMI OSAKA: So actually, I wasn't thinking about not making unforced errors. For me, what I was thinking about was being more aggressive. So I'm quite surprised with the result. But I felt like especially in the first set she was running me around more than I wanted to, so towards the end of the tiebreaker, I tried to be more aggressive and unfortunately that was too late. But in the second set and the third set I was definitely trying to dictate more.

So I would say that the thing that's definitely different about him is that he makes me do a lot of mobility and stretch training. Basically if I'm on the run and I'm getting the ball that's up there, we do a lot of training for stuff like that. I feel like it's really helped me out, because there is definitely a lot of returns that I get now that are stretched out, and I can feel like it helped me a lot.

No, it's more like -- what is it called? What is it called? End of range. End of range.

No, it's more like strength end of range. You're going to have to ask him.

So I actually thought my serve was pretty good today. There were definitely moments where the percentage on the first serve wasn't that good, but I think I have been working on my second serve a lot during quarantine, and I think it showed. But I would say, like, actually for a while since Beijing I have been carrying this slight shoulder injury, so it was really a focus for me to, like, get it better during quarantine. And I did. So this is the first match that I have played since Beijing without it hurting, and I'm just really happy for that.

I mean, I think if I were to evaluate myself or compare myself, I would say this is the first time in a long time I was kind of calm, or just extremely focused throughout the match and without showing any negative emotions. So that's something that I was really thinking about during quarantine, like, what do I want to gain from this when everything ends? For me, that was the thing I landed on, and hopefully it's something that I can keep applying and keep growing and keep trying to, you know, make it more of my character.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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