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August 29, 2020

Naomi Osaka

New York, New York, USA

Press Conference



THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Very tough luck. Despite having to withdraw this morning and not being able to play the final, what positive takeaways do you have from this week and going forward with the US Open next week?

NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, for me, I feel like I played very good matches. I feel like I learned a lot, and definitely a lot off the court has also happened this week.

So I think I'm just happy with how I managed everything and how I was still able to focus on, you know, when I was playing the matches, tennis. So, yeah.

Q. Will you have enough time realistically to be able to recover, since you will be playing again presumably in a few days' time?

NAOMI OSAKA: You know, I never know with that, but I just hope I'm giving myself, you know, the opportunity and the chance to have enough time, because I feel like I would know the answer to your question after I played my US Open match.

Q. Again, I echo, as well, tough luck. Being in the bubble, do you see that as a pro or a con as far as your recovery situation is going to be?

NAOMI OSAKA: The only thing that makes me a bit sad -- or not sad. It's just a bit unfortunate. It's the physio rooms on-site, they don't have ice baths, which I normally take after the matches. So I feel like it's something that I have to adjust to.

I mean, everyone has to deal with the same circumstances, so I can't really say much about it. But it definitely is a little bit of a hindrance. But also, I understand because it's not hygienic in regards to COVID.

So I feel like it's just something I have to adjust to.

Q. It's quite a week you're having, and I commend you. I want to ask specifically about the 1-All point in the tiebreak when you moved to your left. That seemed to be the first time you reached down to the hamstring. Did you feel it before that point, or was it suddenly at that point that you lost to make it 2-1 in the tiebreak? Just a little more about the injury.

NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, so actually I felt my hamstring after my first match. Normally it's because, you know, it's kind of tired and I get it -- because I haven't played a match in, like, six, seven months. So for me that was normal.

In the last match that I played I was more -- I felt it more during the super long service game I had in the second set. Then it just slowly started getting worse and worse.

Then during the tiebreak I felt it again, like, a stronger pain. So, yeah, I would say there were definitely key moments where it just started getting worse.

Q. Given the long break from playing matches, and a lot of people look like they're in great shape, can you describe the differences between training and maybe playing practice sets to what you have to go through during the matches that maybe pushes yourself a little bit further?

NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I would definitely say playing matches is way more intense than playing practice sets or practice. Even if you play, like, best two-out-of-three practice sets and then you play a match, I think it's different just because your nerves are up so muscles are constantly clenched or something like that.

But I think that everyone's probably harboring an injury, a small injury at this point, and everyone is super tired, the ones that did play the Cincinnati tournament. So I feel like of course, you know, it's unfortunate for me to have to pull out, but at the same time, I should, in the back of my mind, feel that everyone isn't at 100% right now.

Q. Obviously the US Open is after tomorrow, and a lot is going on and the whole tournament is different, anyway. I'm wondering, for you, is this a stressful situation? Or how are you feeling right now with the state of your leg, with the state of everything, and knowing you need to be ready for a match after tomorrow?

NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, honestly I'm a bit stressed, but at the same time I feel like I have to keep forcing into my brain that I made the choice to come here, so I shouldn't be stressed about it and I should just be happy to be playing in the first place.

So that's kind of what I have been trying to think. Of course I never want to lose in the first round, and I don't even want to have that thought in my head, but I know that's a possibility.

So I'm just going to think about, like, doing the best that I can.

Q. With the whole bubble situation, normally you'd go back to your hotel room, there would be Manhattan, there would be a whole situation. I'm wondering, with everything that's happening right now, whether in tennis or in the world, is it easier to shut the world out because you are in this bubble? Or is it actually more difficult because you actually kind of have to stew with everything? There is no place to escape everything that's happening. Does it take more of a mental toll on you?

NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I would say, for me at least, now I find myself, like, looking on Instagram and Twitter way more, just because I really have nothing else to do. And I feel like it is a bit dangerous, because I am seeing, like, comments and stuff.

But at the same time, I feel like I don't care as much as I used to. So I think that, like, the entire quarantine process and me trying to grow as a person definitely helped me before coming into the bubble.

And it is sad that I can't, like, walk around New York and stuff and go to my usual restaurants and Japanese bakeries. But honestly, I'm just trying to make the most out of the situation.

Q. Normally when you are in a tournament you're packing your bags and jumping on a plane and going somewhere else. How different is it that you're not going anywhere and there is another chance very soon?

NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I feel like I'm just -- I don't know. I'm just preparing myself. I feel like all these matches are, I don't know. How do I describe this? Like good experiences. All the matches that I played are good experiences, and I feel like I learned from all of them.

Hopefully it can keep building me into a better player. I can only put myself in a position to win, and hopefully winning all those matches put me in a good position to win.

Q. What have you learned about yourself this week? A lot has happened. How do you think maybe you have changed?

NAOMI OSAKA: What I learned about myself... Hmm. I feel like, for me, my biggest worry is the people around me. So whenever I make a decision, I always think about the effort that my team put in, and I don't want it to affect anyone negatively.

But after having conversations with them and everything, they all, like, really supported me. So for me, that was really nice to hear.

So I guess what I learned about myself is that I have to trust the people that I surround myself with more and not worry too much about the things that I can't control.

(Naomi's answers to questions in Japanese.)

NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, for me, usually when I play, when I go deep into a tournament or if I play Grand Slams, like after my match, I go into the ice bath. So I feel like it definitely affected my recovery in some way. Granted, you know, I feel like everyone's kind of affected, too, so I can't really say much on that. And then regarding Misaki, I played her once in Tokyo, I think, professionally, and then we played practice sets before a couple of times. I feel like I know her quite well. She's super nice. For me, I would have to brief myself up on her game mostly because I haven't practiced with her in a while. Yeah, I know she's a really dangerous opponent. She's a lefty. She moves really well, so it's going to be a really tough match for me.

I think the No. 1 thing that I gained confidence in during this week is, like, the fact that no matter what happens, I'm a really good tennis player. For me, there are dips and I feel like you can visibly see the dips where I don't have confidence in myself and I don't do too well. But I think as long as I stay positive and don't think too much about the outcome of the match, then normally I play really well, and for me, that's something that I have to keep consistently doing. Yeah, I think that getting to the finals here definitely gave me a lot of confidence in myself as a tennis player.

Yeah, I mean, for me, I'm actually no stranger to playing night matches, and I'm kind of used to it at this point, though I haven't played one in a really long time. But, yeah, I feel like I should take this as having a night match in US Open on Arthur Ashe is very special, especially, granted, with everything that's going on. But I'm hoping that, you know, the extra time will give me more time to recover, and hopefully, though I never know what will happen, but hopefully I'll be better on Monday.

I mean, for me, I'm the type of person that in the beginning I was a bit skeptical, like I was a bit nervous about not playing in front of people, because I tend to draw my energy from the crowd. But, like, when I started playing, I'm just really competitive, so I want to win no matter what, and I don't really care if there is people. Yeah, I think actually it will be fine. It looks like they are trying to do a lot of really cool things on the court with screens and stuff, so it should be fine.

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