August 25, 2020
New York, New York, USA
N. OSAKA/D. Yastremska
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. You seemed very comfortable with your two matches so far in terms of your playing. Are you feeling better than you expected out there? Do you expect to be playing this well? How is the expectation meeting the reality so far for you?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I would say for me it's not really -- I don't have expectations of myself right now, because, I mean, I haven't played in a really long time. I would just say I expect myself to behave a certain way, which is positively.
I know I have been training really hard and I have been playing really good in LA, so I could only hope to play well here.
Yeah, I feel like I'm not playing at the level I really want to right now, but I'm building up towards it.
Q. On that positivity note, do you feel if you get that part of yourself in order that the rest will always flow through that, and that's like the most crucial thing to unlock everything else? Is that fair, or is that just one piece of many?
NAOMI OSAKA: No, for me I think that's the biggest piece. That's kind of what you described, like, as long as I'm positive and calm, things usually flow together. I'm able to figure things out and apply different things as long as I'm mentally stable (smiling).
Q. Kind of an unusual ending to it I believe with the foot fault as a result of, I guess, the Hawk-Eye. Does it seem kind of strange for a match to end the way that it did? It was just an unusual finish. Can you comment on that?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, it was definitely unusual, but I have kind of had weirder endings, so it doesn't really top that scale.
Q. I also wanted to ask you, playing back-to-back tournaments at the National Tennis Center, do playing this week's matches help you in preparing for the US Open insofar as the fact that by the time the Open starts next week you will have had at least three matches on the courts and to get used to the conditions?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, I feel like I wouldn't be able to fully answer your question until I play my first round in the US Open, but that's the plan. That's the intention for why I play this tournament.
For me, I'm not even thinking about this as a warmup tournament. I'm just thinking about this like I want to win it.
Yeah, I feel like playing on this court, playing matches on these courts is really good for me. It's a bit weird, but I'm playing two tournaments in the same site.
Q. You made the big move to LA. It's a pretty special culture out there, huge city. Just talk about it, what it feels like being there, what you like about it, maybe what you don't.
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, for me, I moved there mostly for business. I felt like I could do a lot more with my free time.
I don't know. I also wanted a change of scenery, because I have been living in Florida since I was, like, ten. I think for tennis players, living in the U.S., it's between Florida and Cali for the weather, and, you know, I thought it was really interesting whenever I visited there. There is always something to do and they have really good Japanese food.
Q. What part of town do you live in?
NAOMI OSAKA: I live in the Hills.
Q. You said you have had weirder endings. What's the weirdest ending you have had to a tennis match?
NAOMI OSAKA: Oh, for me, personally, I lost a match because a girl hit me (smiling). Yeah.
Q. What happened?
NAOMI OSAKA: Well, I didn't move out of the way quick enough. But the thing is her ball was out. Wait. No, her ball was going out, but I was in the way and I didn't...
Q. Okay. Just give me a where and when that happened.
NAOMI OSAKA: Oh, it happened when I was, like, young, like maybe 13 or something.
Q. But you learned your lesson?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah.
Q. I don't know if you have been asked about what it feels to be the highest-paid sportswoman in the world now, according to Forbes. What does that mean to you as a sort of marker on your journey and your family's journey in the sport? What does that achievement symbolize to you, if anything?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, for me, my biggest thing was always being able to provide for my family. That's why I wanted to win a lot of my matches.
I don't know. It's a bit weird, because I feel like people are looking at me differently now.
Q. How so?
NAOMI OSAKA: I don't know. Like, I mean, I'm weird, right? Like, it's kind of a fact. So people were always looking at me differently. But now people are just kind of looking, looking.
It's a different vibe. I don't know also if it's because they haven't seen me since the whole quarantine, but I feel, like, a different vibe.
But anyways, I don't know. For me, I always want to keep growing and expanding, and hopefully it doesn't stop here. And I have a lot of off-court stuff that I like to do and continue to grow, so, yeah.
Q. Back to tennis, on your short-term goals, do you come to New York feeling like you'll be disappointed if you don't leave with a trophy at one of these two events? How do you set your expectations for yourself at this moment in your career?
NAOMI OSAKA: That's a bit tricky, because of course I feel like I came here with the goal to win, but at the same time, the conditions are so different that I feel like I can't get upset with myself if I don't win.
I will certainly be disappointed, but, you know, I don't know how everyone's been training. I don't know if there are people that drastically changed their game or anything like that. Those are definitely things that I have to think about.
For me, as long as I keep positive, there is just really nothing I can be mad at myself for.
Q. Over the past couple days you've spoken about working on your second serve. First of all, curious what specifically had you been working on? Was it about getting more kick? I don't know. Wim is kind of know for helping players with their serve. I'm curious about that.
NAOMI OSAKA: Oh, I didn't know that. I would say working on the kick and the speed. For me, I feel like -- like, say I play against Stosur or something. You know that her second serve is good.
So for me I always wanted to be the player that if you're playing against them, you wouldn't attack their second serve or something like that.
For me, I want to be a player where my game doesn't have any real weakness. So that's kind of what we were working on.
Q. It seemed like your volley technique changed a bit. Is that true or not?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah. I have a one-handed backhand volley now.
Q. What has that been like?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, that's been interesting. But it's better now, because I'm able to like have more feel, which I guess this is why the majority of players have one-handed backhands. Yeah.
Q. As a tennis player, you're like an employer, right? You have the coaching staff and everyone, people on your payroll. In and outside of tennis, do you feel more like a boss now?
NAOMI OSAKA: A little bit, yes. But I don't know. For me, I feel like -- I tend to feel like everyone surrounding me is family, but at the same time there are, you know, everyone has their own role and I'm kind of like the vessel for everyone's kind of dreams and work to be recognized.
So I don't really think of myself as a boss, but I do think of myself as an important piece in, like, the clock that we are making.
Q. This is a very general question. Obviously you have been around for a while. Yet you're still a very young person. You have had these incredible achievements, winning the slams, gaining great fame and wealth. I'd like you to just talk about your growth process and how you have emerged over the years, how you have dealt with the shyness. Is that something that you're really aware of, proud of? Can you just talk how you have grown almost in front of our eyes, so to speak?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I feel like that's a good question for you guys, to be honest, especially Courtney, because she was kind of there for my first Stanford win.
But, yeah, I would say in the beginning, like even going to tournaments, I was really scared. I would say "scared" is the right word, because as a kid, it's kind of nerve-racking to be around professionals and you kind of feel like you're not supposed to belong there.
But, yeah, I feel like I have slowly made a name for myself, and then I was able to win a couple good matches and I got more used to the atmosphere.
It's funny, because in the beginning, like the first two years, I wouldn't even go to the locker room because I was so scared. I was, like, Whoa, I don't want to be around them. They're kind of scary to me.
But, yeah, I feel like I have -- I take time to adjust, but when I get adjusted, I definitely get comfortable, and I know there is a lot more things that I could do better at. For me, that's what's the cool thing about being in new atmospheres and being in new places is you get to, like, learn and stuff.
Hopefully I'll become a better speaker, because I know I have to do more interviews (smiling).
(Naomi's answers to questions in Japanese.)
NAOMI OSAKA: No, I would say I was less nervous today, but I had a lot of fun too. It's a bit weird, because even though I was less nervous, I felt like I wasn't moving as well as I was yesterday. But, yeah, for me they are such different players. Who I played today, she could do anything on any ball, and sometimes I felt like it was out of my control. Who I played yesterday was just such an incredible athlete, so I don't know. It was both really fun, though.
Yeah, I mean, for me I feel like I tend to overthink a lot, so I feel like that's what I was doing a couple of times earlier this year. I just feel like I have practiced for so long now that I just want to do the things that I know are right. If she hits a really good ball and a ball that I know is great, then maybe that's what she was training for for these six months. Yeah, I mean, it's only something to be happy about, because I'm playing against the best people in the world, and I can't really expect anything to be easy.
Yeah, I mean, for me I felt like it was really important, because like I have been to Japan a couple times, and looking around compared to America, America has, like, a lot of open fields. At least when I was growing up in Florida, there was just so many places to play around. Honestly, I have only ever been to Tokyo for extended amounts of time, so maybe it's unfair to compare it to a big city, but I felt like it would be nice to have a program that encourages little kids to play sports and to stay active.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports