August 26, 2020
New York, New York, USA
N. OSAKA/A. Kontaveit
4-6, 6-2, 7-5
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Wim was just in here, and he talked about how you spent a lot of the time, during the stoppage of the tour, working on volleying and slicing and things that haven't normally been a big part of your game. I'm curious, now that you're on court with those things, if you feel more options out there, if it has gotten to the point where it's making you really sort of recalculate things differently in the middle of the points of what you should or shouldn't be doing or can and can't be doing?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I would say it's definitely given me more options. For example, I have actually had to hit a couple of slice-on-the-run backhands, and I think maybe before practicing them so much, I would have maybe tried to go for a crazy backhand. So I do think it's helping me structure my points a bit smarter.
Q. At a set and Love-2 down, what kind of changed for you to go on that run of nine games in a row?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, for me this entire week I have just been speaking about trying to be more positive. So I think just for the first set and honestly a couple of games in the second I was just really being down on myself and super negative.
For me, I just didn't want to, you know, if I had to lose a match, I didn't want to lose a match on that note. Yeah, I just tried to be more positive and pump myself up.
Q. How easily do you think that negativity came back in your head when you're on the court? Or do you feel actually, no, you're able to fight it a bit better at the moment?
NAOMI OSAKA: I mean, probably really easily if it's the third match of my -- like, I just came back from six months and it's the third match and I was already being negative, which is something that's, you know, I hope I can change.
But honestly at this point I'm just glad I was aware of it and I was able to change it. Granted, I wish I could have done it sooner, but, yeah, I don't think this will happen again any time soon.
Q. Since you weren't able to play here in the Cincinnati area, what is it about playing in Cincinnati that you like, and what do you miss?
NAOMI OSAKA: I feel like everyone says this, but I miss the amusement park. I would just say, for me, I like going to different areas because it's cool to meet fans from different places. I guess just having that interaction.
Yeah, and I actually really like the courts in Cincinnati. I like all hard courts, but the Cincinnati hard courts were nice.
Q. Have you ever been to the Cincinnati Zoo when you've been here?
NAOMI OSAKA: No, I actually haven't. For me, it was actually my first time last year going to the amusement park, because I honestly kind of go just from the hotel to the site.
But then last year I had a bit of free time, and everyone always talks about it, so I decided to go to the amusement park. And I kind of see why everyone talks about it.
Q. Did you have a favorite ride while you were at the park?
NAOMI OSAKA: I like the swinging -- I don't know what it's called, but you sit and you strap yourself in, and it's kind of like a pendulum.
Q. Can you give us insight -- because you were talking about how you were being negative but then you were able to pull yourself out of it. So what does that look like on both sides of that line? Like when you're getting negative, kind of what are you saying to yourself? I don't want to be here? I'm frustrated, et cetera et cetera? What about the other side, about what you're telling yourself to pull yourself out of that and be positive?
NAOMI OSAKA: I mean, for me, I would say today I was just thinking, like, you know, I'm super tired. Since the US Open is so close, like, Wow, am I really going to break my back right now? Because I have never -- it's been a while since I have had to play this many matches in a row, and sometimes I get a bit nervous if I'll hurt myself, because it is taking quite a strain on the body.
So, yeah, I just gave myself a lot of excuses. Then I became very down on myself whenever I would miss balls that I thought I shouldn't miss, but then I'm not putting in the effort to correct myself.
So that was the direction I was heading in the first set and like the beginning of the second set. And then just to correct myself, I just began thinking of all my regrets, and I have never regretted a match where I have tried my best and lost. Yeah.
Q. You talk about being tired after your third match back. Does this give you any pause for concern given that you've got this tournament, then the US Open, and then just a couple of weeks later Roland Garros?
NAOMI OSAKA: Honestly, the way my brain works, it can take two tournaments at a time but it can't go all the way to Europe right now (smiling).
I would say it's very interesting to me, because I did do a lot of fitness work during the entire quarantine break. So at this point, like, I'm here, I'm going to ride it out and see how I do.
And there is a bit of a small gap between the finals if I do make it to the finals and the start of the US Open. So, yeah, I guess I'll just see.
Q. Given that, can you understand why so many Europeans opted not to come to the U.S.? Do you think it was truly health concerns, or do you think there was a little bit of a tactical decision there?
NAOMI OSAKA: I think a little bit of both. Plus, you know, I live here in the U.S., so I'm able to see the situation from inside. Maybe looking from the outside it looks worse than it is.
I think that -- I don't know. Everyone is just trying to be very safe.
Q. I wanted to ask you, if you could, to go back to the US Open a year ago, and I'm wondering what maybe sticks out in your mind the most from that match you played against Coco Gauff in New York? And I'm also wondering whether the two of you, since then, maybe even recently, if you've come across each other in New York, if you've ever talked about it, being the two of you, with each other?
NAOMI OSAKA: I mean, actually I haven't seen a lot of players here, which is a bit weird because I guess -- well, I guess it's not weird, because we are all kind of in our individual, like, little bubbles within this big bubble.
But, no, I haven't seen her. I have honestly not talked about it with her. It just feels like it was like a natural thing, and it's kind of in the past. I don't know.
For me, I don't really dwell on it, and I don't think she does either. It's not in a negative way, but it's just, like -- for me, it's just really cool to see someone rising up like that, and that's just something that I did, like, genuinely in the moment. Yeah.
Q. You mentioned that you were quite wary of injuring yourself. Last year you had that injury in Cincinnati. How significant was that for you and whether that's something that is still kind of on your mind when you think of those things?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, for me, I actually forgot about it (smiling). At the time it was very concerning. I remember I was, like, crying in my hotel, because, you know, New York is one of my favorite places, and I was the defending champion last year, so I felt, like, Wow, I can't miss this tournament.
And I wasn't sure the timeline of when my knee was going to get better, but thankfully I was able to play. So, yeah.
I don't know. For me, I don't really think, like, my body is built to get injured frequently, so when it happens, it's a bit -- it's always small naggy things I could prevent if I did rehab -- not rehab, but stretches and stuff. But sometimes I get a bit lazy, but I'm working on it.
(No questions in Japanese.)
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