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February 10, 2021

Naomi Osaka

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Press Conference

N. OSAKA/C. Garcia

6-2, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Into the third round again. Talk us through that match today. Tough opponent, but got through it.

NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, today was definitely very difficult. I haven't played her or ironically I haven't played Ons I think since the WTA Rising Stars thing we all played, so I only had memories of that to pull from.

But, yeah, it's really hard to play a player like her, because I never know when she's gonna swing for the ball or anything. Happy that I was able to do it in two.

Q. If you looked at your draw coming in, you had two pretty challenging opponents first couple rounds. Are you surprised by how easily you handled both of those matches? What does that say about your current form?

NAOMI OSAKA: Honestly I don't really try to look at the draw. The only reason why I kinda knew who I might play these first couple rounds is because the social media (smiling), people WhatsApp me.

As a player, you always expect to play tough matches. That's sort of what you brace yourself for. But at the same time you also want to be able to have the opportunity to play easier matches, like you want to play good enough for it to be easier.

So I'm not really too sure.

Q. Why do you think you haven't played a night match in a while here? Are you liking these night matches?

NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, I like night matches. I think my night match record is pretty good in New York and here. I also have really fond memories, and -- did you ask me if I think why don't I think I play a lot of night matches?

Q. Yeah, were you surprised that you hadn't played more?

NAOMI OSAKA: No, honestly I was surprised that today I was playing a night match. I was kind of expecting to play earlier.

Q. You have to play Ons next, and she told us she really wants a football contract, a soccer contract with you. Would you consider that? And my second question is: What do you make of her progress this past year? She's obviously become a much better player. What you do you make of that?

NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, it's funny, whenever I bump into her in the halls or anything she always surprises me with something. But, yeah, I don't think I have that much jurisdiction, but she's super talented in everything she does, so I'm sure if she really wanted to go for it, she could.

What I think about her rise, I always felt like watching her she's a player that can do anything, and I always felt like she should be where she is now and even higher. For me, I think it's really nice to see her doing well, and I hope that -- I don't know. I hope that she continues to do well, because for me I feel like she's one of those people that you just love to see grow. I just really like her and her personality. I think it's really good for the game.

Q. I'm curious if the way you handle yourself at slams and how you handle the slam experience nowadays, is it different than before? Is it different because of just how you have changed as a person or are there actual things you do differently now in terms of managing your slam than you did, like, before, maybe like a year or two before?

NAOMI OSAKA: I have that sweater too. Sorry. I just noticed it.

Q. Good sweater.


Your question. Yeah, I feel like for me, I'm not sure if -- (Conversation with Iga Swiatek.)

Your question. Yeah, okay, I feel like for me even today I thought that there were things that I share with my team that I wouldn't have shared before, like even last year, because going into this match I was really nervous and I actually had a really bad dream about it.

For me, my dreams are very, like, telling of the future. Like, usually I have dreams and they come true. Last night I had a dream that I lost this match, and I really didn't feel good about it. So then I just talked to my team, and I don't know, I felt better about the situation. And also going into this match, I just thought that I'm not able to, like, control what she's going to do, and I can only control what I'm going to do.

And I also think that's the reason why I was serving so well, because theoretically serving is the one thing you can control in tennis.

Q. I'm curious, what has been your worst tennis-related dream?

NAOMI OSAKA: Oh. Oh, gosh. Honestly, I don't know why this happens a lot, and it usually happens when I'm in the airplane. So usually I have this dream where I'm hitting a backhand rally with someone, and I hit the backhand into the net. And I wake up. So then I wake up hitting the backhand and the person next to me on the airplane is so scared (smiling). That's usually what happens.

And I don't know why, it's always so intense, like the rally is always super intense. I would say that's the most vivid like tennis-related dream I always have.

Q. You mentioned Rising Stars, both Caroline and Ons were there. Curious, what is your memory of that whole event and did you feel like you belonged among players like that at that time?

NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah. For me it was probably one of the most stressful but fun things that I did in that timeline. For me, I don't know. I have never been invited to something that, like, professional, I would say. To be surrounded by the top 10 and, like, see how everyone works was really fun for me and inspiring.

But I would say I kind of felt like I didn't belong, like I was really trying to, like, I don't know, prove myself in a way, because I felt like -- I don't know what it was. I don't know if I was the lowest-ranked person there, but I felt like something like I really wanted to do well in order to fit in, because I vividly remember Caroline being in the top 40 or something around that time, and I'm, like, woo, why am I here?

But, yeah, it was fun.

(Naomi's answers to questions in Japanese.)

NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I feel like for me it's really hard to play against people that I haven't played in a while, and theoretically I didn't play her a full match, either. So I just watched a lot of videos with Wim and we just discussed what I should do in certain situations. I feel like for me, I tend to draw back on experiences, like matches I've played before. So usually when I play a really good server, I think about how I felt when I played Petra in the finals here or like how I felt when I played Brady in the semis of the US Open. So I knew that she had a good serve coming into this match, and I just thought, like, it's okay if I get aced multiple times or if she -- I knew that she was going to be aggressive on my second serve, so I felt like I had to do better there. But it's okay if, you know, she hits winners on me. I just have to keep staying steady.

Yeah, I think I do remember that match, because Ons was like the only person that would talk to me. She was just super nice and inviting. I remember when I played her there, she was, like, doing these things that I've never seen before, hitting dropshots and then hitting, like, flat-out winners right off the bat. So I was kind of, I don't know, when I was playing her I was studying her and being very impressed at the same time.

Oh, my God. No, I really don't think that's my description (smiling).

Yeah, I would definitely say I focused a lot on my returns during the offseason. For me, that was the one thing I really wanted Wim to help me with, because when I played the finals in New York, Vika was really, like, pressuring me on my serves, and I just wanted to have a return like her, to be honest, because I felt like if I have a good serve and a good return, then it will kind of increase my chances a lot. So I definitely wanted to do well in that area, and I think that it might be showing a little bit. Hopefully I'll get even better than this.

I mean, yes, I do feel that way. I feel like, you know, you could be full of information, like, your coach can tell you a lot of information, but in the end it's what you do with it. So I never really believe in, like, following the rules exactly. So I think for me I try to figure out the person while I'm playing the match and also taking into consideration what Wim told me, so if that is considered intuition, then, yeah, I think I do pretty all right there.

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