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September 10, 2020

Naomi Osaka

New York, New York, USA

Press Conference

N. OSAKA/J. Brady

7-6, 3-6, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Did you have a sense that that match was as high quality as we all thought it was from start to finish?

NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, actually I did. I felt like, while I was playing, her level didn't dip at all. For me, it kind of reminded me of the Kvitova match I played in Australia. Unlike that match, I felt like Jenny was very solid throughout the entire thing. I felt like I had no chances almost.

Q. What strength did you find in the stories of the (indiscernible) whose names you've worn on your face during the Open?

NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, for me, I guess the strengths, I would say I pull more from, like, the people surrounding me. I do think it's a very big motivating factor for me just to try to, like, get the names out to as many people as I can. So I'm not sure if that's giving me extra power. Definitely I want more people to talk about it.

Q. We know that was an outstanding match, incredibly high quality. Are you able to really appreciate the level and standard of play, the excitement of a match like that, when you're in the middle of it?

NAOMI OSAKA: I mean, I'm not sure if I feel the excitement, but I do feel very happy. Sometimes I think I have no choice but to play as hard as I can, because my opponent isn't giving me any looks.

For me, normally if I focus that much, then the match potentially could be over in two. But I felt like it just kept going on. Honestly, it was a bit fun because that quality of an opponent... We're at the final stages of a tournament. Yeah, it was fun.

Q. I saw you earlier during the Serena match watching from your suite. I've seen you on TV at almost every Serena match in the suite. What have you seen watching her this tournament? Have you tried to make it a point to be using your seat to get to see Serena up close more than ever before?

NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, definitely. I feel like, you know, first of all she plays on my off days. Normally when I'm around lunchtime, she's playing.

But, yeah, I don't know. I feel like it's been a very long time, maybe Australian Open, maybe the year that I won, that I was able to watch her play. For me, it's sort of a privilege. I know that a lot of people pay a lot of money to watch her. Just to be able to go outside and watch her for free for me is really cool.

Q. Obviously the other semifinal is still going on. If you were to play Serena again, two years on from the other final, such a huge occasion in lots of ways, a controversial occasion, would it be hard not to think about that match? Do you think that match would have any bearing on this match if you did play Serena again?

NAOMI OSAKA: I mean, honestly the only reason I would think about it is because other people bring it up. For me, I don't know, this is the reason why I practice for so many hours. This is literally, like, my dream when I was little, is to play against Serena in Grand Slam finals.

Of course they're still playing and I could potentially play Vika. But, yeah, I don't know. I don't really linger in the past.

Q. You're in your third major final. What have you learned since your first one in 2018 on how to mentally approach them?

NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I would say I feel like my mindset is much different this time around. I feel like I've learned so much through the ups and downs, not even counting the finals, but just regular tour tournaments.

I would say, hmm, mentally I feel stronger. I feel fitter now. It's going to be interesting to see what happens.

Q. You've been very vocal in your support of Black Lives Matter, with your face masks. Are you a little bit surprised that Serena has not come out and made any statements or support of the movement?

NAOMI OSAKA: Honestly, she's like a living icon. Like, I would not be here without her. So no. Anything she does I'm sure is really well thought out. She probably has a lot of conversations with a lot of people. Whenever she wants to talk, she'll talk.

No, I'm new to this game, so...

Q. About Azarenka specifically, what is it that makes her tough as an opponent? Have you watched any of her this week?

NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, for me, I've played her once in Roland Garros. I played her twice, but the Roland Garros one is the most recent one that I remember.

Yeah, she seems really confident now. She's moving well. I don't know. I don't try to think about, you know, other matches right after the match that I just finished. But should be tough if I do play her.

Q. Have you been able to talk to Wim since the match? After you won, he kind of stood up and said, Wow. I don't know what that 'wow' means. Did he give you any indication as to what he thought of that match?

NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, everyone in my team was very happy. They all said it was a high-quality match. They were proud of me for having a very consistent attitude throughout.

We didn't really talk in detail, but he seemed very happy.

Q. On these displays of activism, you said you had seven masks, and you said they were too many. Do you see yourself continuing these types of displays of social activism at future tournaments, or is it limited to here at the US Open?

NAOMI OSAKA: I have no plans. For me, I feel like I'm just doing what I think I'm emotionally capable to do. I felt like this was right for me at this time. I felt like this is what should be done.

But I have no future plans. I don't think this is something that you plan out, so...

Q. I guess there was a lot of players that spoke about the uncertainty after the five-month hiatus. They didn't know how things were going to pan out on the court. You haven't lost a match yet since the restart. What was going through your mind before the tennis came back? Have you surprised yourself at all or did you have a good feeling heading into the restart?

NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, for me, you're never really sure how things will pan out. But I felt like I put in as much work as I could, and I tried as hard as I could during the quarantine to get myself ready. For me, I felt that's the only thing I could possibly to.

Yeah, I feel like my first match in Cincinnati, I was super nervous. But I was really happy with the level that I was playing. I just tried to keep building from that. Now I'm here, so...

Q. Looking at your stats, every time you've gone past the fourth round of a slam, you've made the final. That's rare, not normal. What is it about when you get on a roll and stuff that you're able to sustain that so much?

NAOMI OSAKA: I mean, I'm not sure about that stat because it's only, like, my third time out here (smiling).

But, yeah, I would just say, like, the closer it gets to the finals, the more I think about -- honestly, like no one remembers anyone but the winner. Even if I do happen to, I don't want to say lose but don't achieve my goal in the finals, at least I get a shiny little trophy. At least I can leave with something (smiling).

That's probably one of my biggest motivators.

Q. Putting aside whoever you play, but what would your preparation be like the day of the final? What would you be doing, I'm talking generally?

NAOMI OSAKA: I mean, honestly, I don't sleep during Grand Slams. I guess I'm going to try to sleep. It's probably going to just look like me laying in my bed with my eyes open, trying to will myself to go to sleep. Then, yeah, just practice. Try to be as loose as I can in the moment.

But I don't know. For me, I'm just really happy to be here. So hopefully I can play well.

(Naomi's answers to questions in Japanese.)

NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I didn't feel like I dominated the first set. I felt like I did what I was supposed to do. I held my serve. I tried to hold my tiebreak serve points. I feel like I did that.

Yeah, I honestly did not feel like I was dominating at any time in the match. I felt like there were moments where I capitalized on mistakes that she made or points that, you know, I needed, yeah.

Honestly, I feel like the older you get, the more mentally strong you are. I think that's something that you learn from being on the tour for such a long time, playing so many matches.

But for me, definitely my goal during these two tournaments was to be more mentally strong and to, like, fight for every point. So that's what I'm going to go into the final with. Nothing is going to change that.

Yeah, it honestly doesn't matter who I play because I feel like if I focus inwardly on myself, then I won't look outside for too many answers.

Yeah, I was definitely nervous. I felt like this was sort of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I tried not to think about it too much. I just told myself like, Get through it point by point. If in the end you manage to hold your serve, that's great. If you don't, then you always have more opportunities.

I feel like definitely I've been getting more confident in myself. I feel like all these matches apply to each other. I know that, you know, once it gets to a third set, as long as I stay calm, the outcome could go in my favor.

Yeah, I would just say, like, this is very dependent on match play because you learn more from playing matches. You don't feel as frantic.

I mean, a routine? I feel like honestly I haven't been practicing in my off days compared to the last times that I've won Grand Slams. But this is mostly to preserve my leg. Plus I'm just really tired.

But I wouldn't say I have a set routine. For me, I'm just kind of chilling here. I think the bubble environment is different. I don't really focus or stress too much about outside things.

Yeah, I would say routine, probably just the same warmup every time. But I'm not too strict on it.

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