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September 8, 2020

Naomi Osaka

New York, New York, USA

Press Conference

N. OSAKA/S. Rogers

6-3, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. One of the things you said at the start of this tournament was that you were sneaky about your preparation coming back after the pandemic. You didn't want everybody to know how hard you were training. I ask you now, how hard did you train during your time off before coming back?

NAOMI OSAKA: I mean, in my mind I'm a pretty hard worker. I thought the practices and the fitness was really tough. I can only grade it for myself. But in my mind I thought it was pretty tough. I think that the results are showing.

Q. (Question about seeing the videos of the families of Trayvon Martin and Ahmaud Arbery reaction to Naomi wearing their names on her mask.)

NAOMI OSAKA: Actually I was just trying really hard not to cry. For me it's a bit surreal. It's extremely touching that they would feel touched by what I'm doing. For me, I feel like what I've doing is nothing. It's a speck of what I could be doing.

Yeah, it was really emotional. I feel like, I don't know, after I saw it, at first I was a bit in shock. Now that I'm here and I took the time, I don't know, I'm really grateful and I'm really humbled.

Q. This evening you wore a mask with the name of George Floyd. What do you hope will be the legacy of his tragic death?

NAOMI OSAKA: What do I hope will be the legacy? I don't know. I hope people will research more. To be fair, I know you guys are news and media, but I feel like sometimes the news only shows one side of things. I feel like if people did their research and sort of -- I don't know. Like, do your research first before you say anything about anything, I think.

I don't know what his legacy would be. For me that's sort of what is up to his family.

Q. Your coach spoke yesterday about the balance you have of confidence and power, the ability not to get too nervous. Could you talk about that a little bit.

NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I feel like me and Wim, we have a really nice chemistry. We were able to talk quite a lot during quarantine. We practiced quite a few times on specific things.

But, yeah, I think the main thing for me is just trusting everyone in my team. My immediate reaction whenever I do bad is to feel, I don't know, sad for everyone because they travel with me and stuff, too.

I think for me, you can definitely see my game is improving, and that was a mental block I think last year because I was always comparing results. Now I'm just kind of always looking towards the future.

Q. Are you feeling as comfortable as you've ever felt at the US Open, now that you're at the absolute business end of the tournament?

NAOMI OSAKA: I mean, 'comfortable'? I don't think a person can ever be truly comfortable. But for me, I'm aware that I worked very hard to be in this position. I'm aware that the opponents that I play from now on are going to be very tough.

For me, I think the last two Grand Slams, everything happened so fast, I wasn't really in the moment. I'm just really happy to be in the semis, and hopefully I can keep going.

Q. Many say that George Floyd has changed the world. My question is, as quite a leader, what is your vision? Can you share what kind of world you'd like to see us in? Is that something you could address?

NAOMI OSAKA: What kind of world? Everyone just says 'peace' all the time. I'm not sure what the world would look like if everything was peaceful, but I would hope that people help each other in times of great need.

I would also hope that, like, the older generation isn't scared to help the younger generation. For me, the biggest thing is I don't want people younger than me to suffer through the things I have to suffer through. If any younger player reaches out to me and has questions, for sure I'll answer them. I'll try to help them out because I know how tough it is to be in that position.

Q. Can you talk about tonight's match. Only eight unforced errors over two sets against a player who can hit a lot of winners. What do you think was the key? What paid off for you tonight?

NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, for me, I think I had a very solid game plan with Wim. We sat down. He has these little PowerPoint presentations. That really helps me out a lot.

I think the big thing for me was to be the aggressor and to be okay with making unforced errors. Apparently I didn't make that many. But, yeah, just to accept the unforced errors because I know that I'm going for shots.

Q. How does it feel being the favorite in the next match, even though Jen has yet to lose a set? Do you feel like the favorite?

NAOMI OSAKA: No, I don't feel like the favorite weirdly enough. Because there's no fans, I don't feel anything. I just feel like I'm going into a match with a really talented player, which is all of my previous matches anyway.

For me, I remember watching her. I watched her match against Putintseva earlier today. I know she's a big threat.

Q. You oftentimes talk about the Billie Jean quote 'pressure is a privilege'. What does it mean to you?

NAOMI OSAKA: For me it means a lot. There are moments in the match where I think about this. I feel like before, when I wasn't doing too well, it's because I wasn't accepting the pressure. I feel like in the end tennis is won by a couple points. It's the points where you feel the most pressure, the most nerves.

I think that now I'm sort of embracing that and I'm having more fun with it. Clearly it's doing well for me.

Q. I know it wasn't long ago you won your second slam. You were very open last year after the Australian Open talking about some of your struggles with confidence and the attention from everyone. Was there a moment last year where you felt you were able to get to this level at the majors again or did you always have the belief you would get back to this position?

NAOMI OSAKA: Yikes. I want to phrase this without sounding...

Okay, so, I feel like if I'm positive, no matter how much time it will take, I'll eventually get to where I want to be. For me, I felt like I did well at the end of the year, I won Tokyo and Beijing. I don't know.

I feel like there's a certain mindset that I have to get to in order to get to the goals that I want to. But it does feel like a long time since I've been to this part of a major. At the same time all the work that I put in makes it seem like... I don't know. It's just a journey, I would say.

(Naomi's answers to questions in Japanese.)

NAOMI OSAKA: I don't know. I feel like the more matches I play, the fitter I get. I think definitely there are certain movements that you can only do when you're playing a match. That's definitely trained me quite well.

But yeah, I think I've worked really hard with Yutaka. We've done so much. We also do things like on the off days, I'm not playing tomorrow, but I'm going into the gym. Just constant repetition I think is the key to how I'm doing right now.

Yeah, I would say definitely he gives me a very clear game plan, which I'm very thankful for. Today we were just focused on -- of course, every day I'm focused on myself. Today I was just focused on trying to dictate, like every match, but especially more against her because I feel that if you just hit in the middle, she's going to pull the trigger. I felt like I had to move the ball around a couple times today.

I think because I'm aware of the process now, I'm mentally more aware of things than I was last time I was in this position. I for sure am more grateful. I don't know. I sort of feel like I was a baby the last time I was in this spot. Yeah, I feel like I'm a better player overall actually. My return is better, for sure, so...

Honestly I've been recommended shows. Most of the time I just sleep. Eubanks, he told me to watch the Black List, so that's kind of what I've been doing. Trying to keep my mind off everything.

I honestly think just because of the amount of matches that I've played, the amount of all the different balls that I've been able to hit against in this, like, three-week period, I don't know, I played Giorgi, she absolutely rips the ball. In my mind I was thinking if Shelby goes for the ball, it could possibly not be as bad as Giorgi was.

I feel like all the experience with the different balls helps me out because I'm able to pull from those memories when I'm in the match. Does that make sense?

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