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September 1, 2020

Naomi Osaka

New York, New York, USA

Press Conference


6-2, 5-7, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. What is the easiest and the toughest thing about playing without the crowd and lively atmosphere?

NAOMI OSAKA: Easiest? What is easiest and what is the toughest?

I would say easiest is I don't get distracted. Sometimes I do get distracted like sometimes I will see a person with a cool outfit or something, they're doing something and sometimes I get distracted. I guess that would be easier.

Then the toughest is I feel like I feed off the crowd's energy, so if I'm just having a bad day, it's a little bit lonely. Of course, I'm really competitive so in the end it doesn't really -- I wouldn't say it doesn't matter, but I like to win no matter what.

Q. (Question about mask and message.)

NAOMI OSAKA: Message I'm trying to send? Just awareness.

Q. Just the message you're hoping to get across.

NAOMI OSAKA: For me, I just want to spread awareness. I'm aware that tennis is watched all over the world, and maybe there is someone that doesn't know Breonna Taylor's story. Maybe they'll like Google it or something. For me, just spreading awareness. I feel like the more people know the story, then the more interesting or interested they'll become in it.

Q. Talk about playing through that match, keeping your cool after you worked so hard to try to get the second set, but being forced into a third.

NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, for me, the main thing I wanted to bring into this tournament was just staying calm. I feel like it's a bit tough to play players when you know they're going to raise their level. Sometimes they feel like they have nothing to lose. So for me, I felt like that's what she did in the second set.

I kind of sort of didn't play as well as I did in the first set. There was, of course, a slight dip. But I think in the third set, I leveled it off pretty well, yeah.

Q. You put enough pressure on yourself to win matches but also the political climate. How do you manage the stressors, those expectations?

NAOMI OSAKA: Mostly I'm kind of chilling. Like I would have expected myself to feel -- yeah, I guess I am a little bit stressed out sometimes. It's always the first round.

A lot of people ask me if I feel more stressed out ever since I started speaking out more. To be honest, not really. At this point, like, if you don't like me, it is what it is. You know what I mean? I'm kind of here for (indiscernible). I don't have to be here. So for me, I'm just here to, like, hopefully to beat people.

Q. How do you feel physically? How was your leg today?

NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, physically I feel like I could be better. But I can't complain because I won the match. For me, it's somewhat interesting. I feel like every Grand Slam I play is a different story. You almost feel completely different at every Grand Slam.

Yeah, I think it's just a matter of getting through it. I'm just going to see what happens, yeah.

Q. Can you talk through the journey of your leg for the last 72 hours or so. How was it feeling on Saturday compared to now?

NAOMI OSAKA: The journey of my leg (laughter)?

Yeah, I would just say, like, the turnover time was quite quick. I don't even know what day it is. What day was yesterday? I hit for a little bit yesterday. I hit a little bit on Sunday. I didn't really move around or anything. The leg felt relatively good. Like, it was still a little bit sore, but it felt relatively good today.

But then during the match, it slowly got a little bit worse. Yeah, I just feel like there's some recovery time that I'm lacking that I wish I could get back.

For the most part I'm managing.

Q. (Question regarding the men's new proposed professional tennis association.)

NAOMI OSAKA: You know how my brain works. I take it one event at a time. Honestly I saw Djokovic posted a picture, but I didn't really think too much about it. I guess I'm going to scroll back, scroll where his picture was, then maybe I'll have an answer for you.

Q. Speaking of your next match against Camila Giorgi, another big hitter, how do you feel about playing that sort of match on this court?

NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, for me, I actually really love playing big hitters. I feel like it's much funner to have someone that also has the match on their hands as opposed to, like, being stressed out because you know you have to finish all the points by yourself.

Yeah, I think definitely it will be very fun. It's going to be a bit strange with the atmosphere since there's no fans. I think we're both really concentrated players, and I know she does everything very quickly. It's going to be very interesting.

Q. (Question regarding the artwork and support by the tournament and its effect.)

NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I saw it when I was, like, looking on from my suite. I don't necessarily look out towards the stadium while I'm playing. I definitely think it's really nice. I really appreciate the tournament showing their support.

For me, I just feel like we're heading towards a great direction, and there's a lot of players that are supporting it. Tiafoe made his video during the off-season. It's not the off-season, but the quarantine. I think there are a lot of voices that are contributing towards a lot of things, so it's definitely very nice to see.

(Naomi's answers to questions in Japanese.)

NAOMI OSAKA: For me, I don't really have a problem with playing a long match. Of course, it's not really ideal this the situation with my leg right now. But I feel like the first rounds are always really tough. We both probably really had a lot of nerves going into the match. For me especially since I haven't played Misaki in a very long time, I felt like I was sort of expected to win the match. I carried that with me throughout the entire match. I think it was almost good to play a long match because I was able to hit my stress out, so yeah.

Yeah, I mean, my memories of Arthur Ashe are definitely full of people as opposed to now. But I think they did a really good job with making it feel not empty. There's also crowd noises that they play. Definitely I didn't feel like we were sort of playing in this empty stadium with no energy. I feel like we definitely had a lot of, like, energy to feed off of. They did a really good job with, like, covering the seats with things, having monitors around us.

I think that, of course, for me -- actually, I don't know. I'm not sure if I played (indiscernible) crowd. I have a pretty good record. I would say with a crowd sometimes I do some stuff because I want to entertain people and it might not be the best decision at the time. Since there's no crowd right now, I'm not really doing the bad decision making.

Yeah, I think it would be nice to see Monfils here. I wonder what he would do. Yeah, I guess those are my thoughts.

Yeah, I definitely think she returned well today. For me, I feel like I felt pressure, but also at the same time I thought my second serves were doing their job in keeping her at bay. Of course, there were some shots where she hit pretty good balls deep down the middle and I couldn't really neutralize them as well as I wanted to.

I think it's just I haven't played a lefty in a very long time. Just the trajectory of the ball was a bit odd for me. Yeah, I would say definitely she was returning well.

I would say I started off with Breonna Taylor's name first because she was most important. There are still marches going on even though people don't really talk about it.

The second question? My brain is not working. Oh, yeah, the locker room. Yeah, I would say I actually don't really go into the locker rooms any more because we have a player suite. For me, that's where I spend most of my time. But I guess a solution to the ice back would be getting your own ice and filling up your bathtub. I feel like everyone is sort of struggling with it, so we just have to keep finding, like, alternative solutions.

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