September 4, 2020
New York, New York, USA
N. OSAKA/M. Kostyuk
6-3, 6-7, 6-2
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. What responses have you received that have meant the most to you about your wearing masks to raise awareness of the tragic deaths of people of color?
NAOMI OSAKA: I think the responses that meant the most to me are probably people saying thank you. And for me, I don't know, it always takes me by surprise because I don't know if I feel like I'm doing anything. But people say thank you and I'm proud of you, and for me that's something that's really touching to my heart.
I don't know. I feel like when I'm in the moment, I'm not aware of how many people are watching, but when I leave the court, then I feel like -- I don't know. I interact with people.
Q. Another non-match question for you. You mentioned that Tsitsipas has been one of the people who has been engaging you more on what you're doing with your on-court messaging. I know you talked about your friendship before, but what does that relationship mean to you kind of in general beyond what he's just asked you these past couple of weeks? Why do you feel like you guys are so simpatico? You seem to be really good friends.
NAOMI OSAKA: I mean, I'm going to say it from my side, and then maybe you can ask him later, but for me, I just feel like we're kind of similar in the way that -- I don't know. We both like to ask questions, but we are both sort of in our own world a little bit.
I feel like, for me, it took a little bit to understand him, if I'm being honest. But, yeah, I just think that -- I don't know. It seems like we are both really honest and we don't sort of flit around the subject.
Q. What do you understand about him now that you feel you didn't when you guys first became friends or started interacting?
NAOMI OSAKA: This is going to sound kind of weird. I think what I understand about him now more is he's genuinely curious about everything, and I think there is a lot of things that -- you know, because I was raised in America and he was raised in, like, Europe, so there is a lot of culture things that are very different.
So things that I might think are very common, like common knowledge, isn't common knowledge to him. So just like breaking those barriers.
Q. Can I just ask who you most would want to show up on the live postmatch call on the court and why?
NAOMI OSAKA: Who I most would want to show up on the postmatch? Honestly probably my dad, just because he's the one person I can see would never do it (smiling). Like literally anyone in the world, I don't think my dad would be the one to do it.
Q. I hope he does next then.
NAOMI OSAKA: Doubt it.
Q. That crazy game where you saved five breakpoints in the third set, I'm wondering how physical was that for you? What was your biggest takeaway from that match for you? You really needed to dig deep to get through it.
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I feel like that game was very important, and honestly, I'm not sure how it would have went if she won it and I would have had to break her back, but thankfully I don't have to think about it too much.
And I think my biggest takeaway from her game is that she didn't back down from me or from, like, the speed of my ball, which for someone that young is kind of amazing, because I feel like, you know, the first set went that way, and then she could have faded in the second set.
Of course in the third set towards the end I feel like physically I was better, and I was, of course, more experienced. But, yeah, I feel like she's definitely going to be dangerous.
Q. Does it feel strange to you that in a match like that you're kind of the veteran because she's 18 and suddenly you're not in that age bracket? Whereas you were kind of there fairly recently.
NAOMI OSAKA: Honestly not really anymore, to be honest. Like, after I played Coco twice, I just feel like, you know what? She's probably the youngest person ever. So anyone that I play that's, you know, younger than me, I'm just going to be aware that they worked very hard to be, you know, on the other side of the net from me, and I have to treat them with respect and, I don't know, try my best to beat them, I guess.
Q. I'm wondering for you, we're currently trying to figure out where Adrian Mannarino is, he's supposed to be playing Alex Zverev, there's things about positive tests and exposure to people who've been tested positive. No one's sure what's going on because we're not on-site right now. Does it feel everything like it's going calm and smoothly there on your end as a player? Or does it feel like there is still a lot of chaos or confusion about everything that's happening in the tournament right now? Just what is the sort of mood from your sense?
NAOMI OSAKA: I mean, for me it feels very normal and calm. There is no staff running around panicked.
But I would say probably if you were one of the 11 people -- I heard that there was 11 -- then maybe things would be different. But from my end, everything seems kind of calm and, like, every day is the same sort of thing.
Q. You have obviously been so socially engaged with a lot of events going on in the U.S., bringing awareness to them. And the tournaments and tours have also put a few "Black Lives Matter" signs on the courts at different locations now. I'm curious if you think the tour or athletes could also be doing things more worldwide focus? A lot of protests in Belarus where there is a bunch of players from. There's other things in other countries, as well. Would you like to see the scope expanded to outside of just American events, as well?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I feel like definitely that would be the end goal, because tennis is an international event. It's played by so many people around the world.
I feel like there is always a very good opportunity to speak out about subjects. But, yeah, I feel like as soon as one player starts talking about it, then it kind of opens the door for everyone else. I don't know.
Q. Just talking about the end of the second set and going into the third and bouncing back, obviously you were frustrated at the end of the second set, and then she took the medical and it was a long break, about three minutes, before you had to serve at 2-1, and you immediately fell behind Love-40. What was that kind of whole span like for you just to kind of reel in just where your head was at at that moment emotionally and knowing the pressure in the early part of that third set, trying not to get broken?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, for me it was -- I don't know. It was an unfortunate timing, personally, for me, to just have a long break right before I'm about to serve. But situations like that happen, and honestly what I was thinking was just to, like, stay calm and not use too much energy, if that makes sense.
Like, I didn't want to expend too much energy, so that's what I was thinking. And then unfortunately I was down very quickly, it felt.
But, yeah, luckily my serve backed me up in times of great crisis.
Q. Going down the stretch in that third set, what do you tell yourself? Do you tell yourself, Go down swinging, hit the ball, power for power? Do you tell yourself, Don't miss? Pull off a little bit? What are you telling yourself when you're under pressure in those third sets?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, it's a mixture between those two, like, depends on the point, depends on what she does during the point.
But most of the time I feel like I get myself into bad situations because I'm not swinging and because I'm not the one dictating. So I feel like definitely there were too many times where I was just thinking about, you know, getting a ball back over the court and hopefully she'll make an unforced error and things like that.
In the third set I was definitely thinking about being more of the dictator between us two.
Q. How does your leg feel? And secondly, you looked very displeased with yourself at the end of the second set. I was wondering if you could tell us what disappointed you the most the way you played in the second set?
NAOMI OSAKA: That's a nice word, "displeased." I was definitely very displeased (smiling).
I guess I would say -- I'm starting from the second question -- but I guess I would say the thing that made me most displeased was probably the decisions that I was making and the fact that I started becoming way too passive and hoping that she would, you know, make an unforced error.
For me, I felt everything was going really well for her during the tiebreak. And I remember she came to the net, and I hit it as hard as I could towards her, and she made it, and for me I was just, like, Whoa, this is unbelievable.
But, yeah, I would just say I was very displeased with how I was performing towards the end of the second set.
Then your first question? I forgot about it.
Q. The leg. How is your leg doing?
NAOMI OSAKA: So my leg I think -- I don't know. I felt like I was moving well today. It could be better, but I think for a three-set match, the amount of movement that I did, and the fact that I felt like I could have kept going if I really needed to is definitely a good sign.
Q. What were you thinking about when you pulled the towel over your head at the start of the third set?
NAOMI OSAKA: Oh. You don't want to know that.
Q. That's something you do once in a while, right?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, it's what I do in times of extreme anger and frustration.
But I guess, like, if I was being very -- if I simplified it, what I was thinking was I have a really good opportunity to do well in this tournament, and I'm aware that all the matches that I'm going to play is going to be very difficult. So I just need to, like, reel in my emotions and fight as hard as I can for this third set.
Q. Billie Jean King said some really nice things about you recently. She also said that in tennis, one generation passes the baton on to the next generation. A full 50 years ago, nine women, including Billie, joined with a magazine publisher and a corporate executive to get the women's market going at a really, really tough time. Are you familiar with the original, what are called the Original 9 and that chapter of women's tennis history? If so, could you talk about this.
NAOMI OSAKA: So I don't know that much about the history, like, if I had to take a test I would probably fail, but I feel like I know enough in order to be aware that the position that I am in right now wouldn't be possible without the efforts of everyone.
For me, I feel like they are -- I don't know. For them to do that was super brave of them. And for me, I feel like sometimes when I get texts from her, it always surprises me. I always feel very honored. And I feel like the fact that she's backing me up so much means a lot to me, especially through, you know, what's been going on the past week or so. So, yeah.
Q. One of her famous slogans is "Champions adjust." She loves that slogan. Does that ring true to you as a player?
NAOMI OSAKA: You know, I'm trying my best. I feel like I could probably do better.
But I think so. I think that you get in uncomfortable situations sometimes, and you definitely have to adjust to them and you can't really bulldoze your way through, so, yeah.
Q. A question for you, a non-match question. When the draw originally happened, it listed nine women that were mothers, and three are in the third round. What do you think of that? Looking into the future, when you become a mother and you could still play, do you think you would come back on tour and play and travel around with a child?
NAOMI OSAKA: I mean, for me, it's really nice to see, because -- I don't know. You can feel that they love the sport so much, you know.
I personally think it's really nice to see, like, little kids running around and stuff. I like it.
Hmm. Honestly, that's so far ahead in the future, I haven't really thought about it, but I think, you know, if I miss the atmosphere and the fans that much, maybe if I do have a kid I might want to come back for one year. But simply just because I really love the sport.
(Naomi's answers to questions in Japanese.)
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I feel like I wasn't really thinking about her age while I was playing her. She was a really tough opponent, so I had no time to think about how old she was. And, yeah, I feel like I stopped caring too much about how old people were, because I used to obsess over it, and I used it as a, like, timeline for me to feel like I should be doing this at this age and this at this age. Yeah, I didn't really feel like it was helping me out at all. And also, I feel like the biggest thing between me when I was 18 and me now is probably my sense of confidence, because I feel like no matter the match that I play, whatever happens, I'll always have a chance to win the match. Probably when I was 18 I felt like things were too out of my control, and I didn't have that much experience playing matches. So I wouldn't even, like, know where to start. I think that this is something that you can only learn from playing on tour and playing matches, so she's probably going through that right now.
Yeah, I mean, personally for me, I don't think much about it. I try not to look up too much, but I did notice, like, people from Zverev's box watching. But it didn't make me nervous or anything, because I feel like when there are spectators, coaches, and people come and watch your match anyways, but you can't see them because they blend in. But it definitely is very interesting and fun this way of, the way they set it up.
Yeah, I feel like definitely that game in the second set was a turning point, and I do remember it being very long. I wasn't aware of how many break chances I had, but, yeah, I felt that I wanted to get down on myself for not converting the breakpoints, but at the same time, she's on serve and she was playing very amazing for those breakpoint chances that I had. And I tried, actually, like, so many different things, but she sort of had an answer for all of those. Yeah, there were just some things that are out of my control, and I felt like that was one of them.
Yeah, I feel like the me back then probably would have felt very panicked by the play style that I just sort of had to overcome and I probably would have started going for a lot even in very difficult situations. But right now I feel like I'm really fit, so if I have to neutralize a ball back into the middle, that's something that I feel I can do and I feel like I'm able to reset points. So I think maybe that's one thing that I learned over these many years that I have been on tour.
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