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September 5, 2018
New York, NY, USA
N. OSAKA/L. Tsurenko
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. First Grand Slam semifinal. How does that feel?
NAOMI OSAKA: It means a lot, but for me I feel like I was much more emotional for the quarters. And then now I feel like it's sort of like business again.
Q. She was saying she wasn't feeling well. She had, like, a viral infection, woke up with a bad throat. Not taking away from your victory, but she was not herself, she described. Did you get a sense of that? Did you get a sense that you were up against somebody who really couldn't give their all?
NAOMI OSAKA: Not really, because I don't really look on the other side of the net too much. I try to focus on what I'm doing, and, I mean, I don't know, like, I feel if I were to look at what she's doing, then I would maybe let off a little bit or try to think that's going to be easier. I didn't really see anything that she was doing.
Q. When you're saying it was more emotional before and now it feels like it's business, why is that? Did you purposely make it your mission to just focus and make it more businesslike? Why did that happen?
NAOMI OSAKA: I think it's because for me, like, quarters was sort of my mental goal, like every time I played a Grand Slam. And then after I went into the quarters, I kind of want to keep going, so I feel like I have to be focused again and, like, keep trying really hard.
Q. Can you recall how you felt during your run at Indian Wells and if there are similarities between the way you felt as that tournament developed and how you felt this week?
NAOMI OSAKA: I would say it's kind of hard, because I'm playing different players and it's different conditions. I also feel like I'm a different player, as well, so I can't really say if I feel the exact same way, but I would think it's pretty close.
Q. There is a lot of excitement in Japan about your progress and how well you're doing. Are you aware of that? Do you feel connected to it?
NAOMI OSAKA: No. I mean, I'm really grateful that I get a lot of Japanese press. I think it's because of Kei. I'm really happy about that. I just hope that I can keep doing well. I hope that they keep cheering for me.
Q. You think it's because of Kei more than you?
NAOMI OSAKA: Like, Kei (indicating with hands that Kei is bigger).
Q. You have spoken so often how you came here and played on these courts when you were little and how you like to walk around in the city and everything. Does making these Grand Slam milestones here at this slam mean anything extra to you just because of the nostalgia and you grew up here and everything?
NAOMI OSAKA: Well, it definitely means a lot for me, and I always thought if I were to win a Grand Slam, the first one I'd want to win is the US Open, because I have grown up here and, like, then my grandparents can come and watch. I think it would be really cool.
Q. You said you felt like you were a different player from Indian Wells. In what ways do you feel you're different?
NAOMI OSAKA: Like just my mentality and stuff. Like in Indian Wells I get a bit distracted if I'm in the lead. And now I feel like I'm finding it easier to try to close it up as quickly as I can.
Q. Can you talk about your serving? Today you seemed pretty flawless. And also a little bit about -- I know you have Japanese and American citizenship and you came here at three, so talk about your identity in both countries.
NAOMI OSAKA: I only really heard the first part, I'm sorry.
Q. About your serve?
NAOMI OSAKA: I mean, I feel like today my serve was working pretty well. I mean, of course I would have loved to have a higher percentage first serve. But my second serve was pretty strong today, too. So I don't really have anything to complain about there.
And then the second part of your question?
Q. I know you're a dual citizen. Can you talk about your identity with Japan and what identity you have here with the U.S. ?
NAOMI OSAKA: I feel like every single time... Okay. So I was born in Osaka. I came to New York when I was three. I moved from New York to Florida when I was, like, eight or nine, and then I have been training in Florida since.
Q. But just talk about your relationship with, like, Japanese culture and then your relationship with U.S. culture, how both countries affect you or have made you who you are.
NAOMI OSAKA: Well, my dad's Haitian, so I grew up in a Haitian household in New York. I lived with my grandma. And my mom is Japanese. I group up with the Japanese culture, too. If you're saying American, I guess because I lived in America, I also have that, too.
So I hope I answered your question. I don't know.
Q. Can you describe your relationship with Kei?
NAOMI OSAKA: Oh, here we go (smiling). Well, he's really nice. He's probably one of the nicest people I have ever met. We recently started talking. I think it's because I was too shy to talk to him before this tournament. But then I started talking to him, and I think he was surprised about me talking to him. So, yeah, he's really cool.
Q. Were you surprised at all about anything about him? Because he's fairly reserved himself.
NAOMI OSAKA: I don't know if I'm going to get in trouble if I say this, though. Like, I just think he's, like, a really big kid. Like, I don't know how to describe it. Like, he plays games and stuff, too. I think we're pretty similar in that sense. Overall, he's just really nice and positive and bubbly and stuff.
Q. Since we don't know which player you'll be facing in your next match, I'd like to ask you about the two players individually. First, Madison. How would you describe what it is like to face her and what you draw from your experience from having faced her before?
NAOMI OSAKA: Well, I mean, I have played her a lot, so I already know how she plays, and I know that she's a very powerful player. She's really good. I know that if I play her, then it won't be easy at all. Plus, she's American, so the crowd will probably be rooting for her.
And then I have played Carla recently, too, in Canada. She's just really consistent and she fights for every ball. I know that whoever I play, it's going to be really tough.
Q. One quick follow-up about Madison. How would you compare your style of play with hers?
NAOMI OSAKA: It sort of depends. Like, sometimes I go crazy and then I start hitting everything. And then, like, other times, like the match today, I will try to be more consistent. But I think in a base, she's more of a power player than I am. But I switch my style sometimes, so I don't really -- like, we both have big serves and stuff, and forehands and our backhands are pretty good. I would say people would say it's a similar style.
Q. Did your love of the game of tennis begin on Long Island? And where did you practice? Did you play any sets or games, or were you too young at the time to do that?
NAOMI OSAKA: Well, I played in -- I don't remember the location, but there is like Sport Times? I played in a few of those, I think. But not really, like, a specific one. And then I would play on these public courts in -- I don't really know where they were.
But, yeah, I grew up playing in New York for a bit. I don't really remember playing sets with anyone else except my sister.
Q. You came here when you were young?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yes.
Q. Was there something about being here that attracted you to tennis?
NAOMI OSAKA: Are you saying with New York or...
Q. No, the US Open.
NAOMI OSAKA: Oh. I mean, it was sort of the first tournament that I saw all the people that were playing on TV. So I thought it was something really amazing. Just to see them in person and, like, experience the atmosphere, I think it was, like as a kid, I thought it was really cool.
Q. Is there anything specific you looked up to and admired when you came here?
NAOMI OSAKA: Of course, Serena.
Q. There was 4,500 women in the Grand Slam history. 57 Japanese players. Nobody reached semifinal at the US Open. 48 hours, you could be the first one who play in the final. Kimiko Date or Sascha give you any advice how you can handle this pressure from the Japanese media or from...
NAOMI OSAKA: They're laughing at you.
Q. Any advice how you can be the first-ever Japanese?
NAOMI OSAKA: I don't really feel pressure from them. I feel a lot of support, and I'm really grateful about that.
But, for me, I think winning in Indian Wells helped me a lot, because now I feel like the state of mind that I have here is, it's like -- I don't feel pressure, so I feel a little bit like I'm used to it.
Q. You have had a pretty dominant run here in this tournament. What's been clicking that maybe wasn't in matches leading into New York? You said you were nervous. How long did that last when you took the court today?
NAOMI OSAKA: Well, like, if you look at my Twitter, I posted something. And then next question (smiling)?
I mean, I felt nervous until 4-1 in the first set, because I felt like it took a little bit for me to get adjusted.
Q. What do you like most about the Japanese culture, about America, and about Haiti?
NAOMI OSAKA: Japanese culture? I kind of love everything about it. I love the food. Everyone's really nice. There's just a lot about Japan that's really cool.
America, I live here, so, like, I train in Florida. I think Florida is really good to practice tennis. And Haiti, if you've ever met a Haitian person, they are just really positive, and literally if you're friends with them, then they will do anything for you. So I think that's something that is like a really good trait, and I'm really happy that my grandparents and my dad's side of the family is like that.
Q. How does it feel for you, since you spent so much time here when you were young, how do you feel when you go back to Japan? Especially now, you go back as a well-known person, what's that like?
NAOMI OSAKA: Well, have you ever been to Japan?
Q. I have.
NAOMI OSAKA: So when you go there, you're, like, everything is totally awesome and you're having the time of your life (smiling). Every day you go out and you eat good food and stuff.
That's how I feel right now, like, I'm really looking forward to going to Tokyo. But I have to focus on playing this tournament. I mean, when I go to Japan, I don't feel like I'm at home. I feel like I'm in a super-awesome, like, it's not home, it's like a super-awesome extended vacation that I don't want to leave.
Q. You mentioned on court that you liked playing in the heat and you train in it. But do you have to still monitor everything? And, for instance yesterday, when you're recovering, did you go through the same routine you normally do, or did you maybe rest a little more?
NAOMI OSAKA: Well, yesterday I did the same thing I normally do. I don't really change anything. So I feel like maybe I drank more water but nothing really different.
Q. Can you just talk a little bit about the impact that Sascha has had since you started working with him?
NAOMI OSAKA: Are you ready for this? Okay. Well, I feel like since I was working with him, and I tend to be a bit negative on myself, I feel like I've gotten a little bit more optimistic. And, yeah, he tries to make every day really fun and exciting. For someone like me that sort of thinks sometimes things are boring, I think that's good for me.
Hmm. Yeah, I can't really think of anything else.
Q. How would you describe your biggest goals in this sport and how this run at the US Open might fit into that?
NAOMI OSAKA: I mean, I feel like every young person playing, they want to win Grand Slams and they want to be No. 1, so of course that's my goal. But again, I'm not trying to put too much pressure on myself.
I know I'm in a position that I can possibly do that, but I want to really think that I'm grateful to be in the position that I am in the first place, and I just want to take, like, one point at a time.
I know that the players that are, like, at this final stages of the tournament, they're really good. I know that everyone wants to win this tournament.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports