Under the Patronage of H.h. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai

14TH FEBRUARY – 27TH FEBRUARY 2021
Dubai Duty Free tennis stadium
14TH FEBRUARY – 27TH FEBRUARY 2021
Dubai Duty Free tennis stadium
February 20, 2019

Naomi Osaka – Press Conference

2019 Women's Singles Second Round: K. MLADENOVIC/N. Osaka 6-3, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. What are your thoughts on the match tonight?

NAOMI OSAKA: I mean, I thought I played pretty bad. I mean, there are days that you have like that, and you just have to find a way to, like, win no matter what the situation is, so…

Yeah, I mean, I played against a really good player, too.

 

Q. It looked like your serve was letting you down. Did you feel you were off before the match or when you were hitting here? Did you not get a sense this is how things would go?

NAOMI OSAKA: ‘It let me down.’ That was an understatement. It was a disaster.

No, I haven’t been practicing well recently. I just thought, like, it would go away during the matches. I was kind of counting on that. That didn’t happen, so…

 

Q. When you say you didn’t feel like you were practicing well, what does that mean? Rhythm? Feel? Vibe?

NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, my rhythm was kind of off. But there’s been times where it’s been worse than now, and I managed to play well in matches. Yeah, when I say I haven’t been practicing well, just like rhythm. I don’t know, I feel like I’m not doing enough or something.

 

Q. Is there any cause for concern? What’s the way forward?

NAOMI OSAKA: I mean, the Australian Open was not even a month ago. I mean, this was just one match. I feel like even if I don’t win any matches for the rest of the year, I wouldn’t say I’m concerned. I think I’m pretty young. I still feel like I have a lot to learn.

For me, that’s sort of my biggest thing after this match. I think I play well after I lose a sort of bad match. I’m just looking forward to the next tournament.

 

Q. You played her here at this event a year ago. Do you remember anything about how she played then compared to tonight?

NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, I feel like she served harder back then. I’m not sure if that’s accurate. That’s just in my mind, I thought that’s what she did.

Yeah, I think it was a little bit similar. Maybe more dropshots back then, too.

 

Q. There’s been so much to the news about Sascha. How are you able to deal with all of this attention, or are you able to block it?

NAOMI OSAKA: I mean, I couldn’t. That’s the result. This match is the result of that.

Yeah, I mean, I’m pretty sure, like, you guys – no offense to you guys – but I’m pretty sure as time goes on you guys will stop talking about it. For now, it’s like the biggest tennis news, I guess.

See, it’s a little bit hard because I feel like people are staring at me, and not like in a good way, so…

 

Q. You say this match is a result of that. You’re saying mentally it affected you in the match?

NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah.

 

Q. When you talk about having that perspective of the final, no win for the rest of the year, it’s no cause for concern, where does that perspective come from? Where did you learn that? Is that always how you’ve seen your career, because I don’t think it has been?

NAOMI OSAKA: No, it hasn’t. I’m sort of notoriously – I hope I said that right – tough on myself. Yeah, it’s something that I’ve adopted recently. Before US Open, I lost those three matches in a row. I was just thinking, like, Wow, am I ever going to do anything in my life?

Yeah, I was thinking to take it one match at a time. Even if something happens this year that is not necessarily good for me, I need to look at all the positive things that I’ve done.

 

Q. Has the reaction to the coaching situation surprised you? Is that part of a learning process?

NAOMI OSAKA: Sort of. I don’t think I necessarily understand what position I’m in, in a way, because last year I wasn’t even anywhere close to this ranking. People didn’t pay attention to me. That’s something that I’m comfortable with.

I don’t know why I’m crying. Yeah. I don’t know why this is happening.

THE MODERATOR: Shall we step outside?

NAOMI OSAKA: It’s cool. It’s done now.

 

Q. So dealing with the expectations on you…

THE MODERATOR: I believe we’ve addressed the coaching enough today. I think we’ll move on.

 

Q. I’m talking about the way you are reacting, as the attention is on you now.

NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I don’t really like attention. It’s been a little tough.

THE MODERATOR: Any more post-match questions about the match? If not, we’ll move on to Japanese.

 

Q. Can I ask about going to Indian Wells? You had a lot of success there last year. Do you think that you can perhaps draw on that and be a positive turn for you?

NAOMI OSAKA: I’m not really sure because I’ve never been a defending champion. Hopefully I remember all the good times that I’ve had there. Somehow, I don’t know, start feeling better about myself.

But I can’t really say until I get there.

(Naomi’s answers to questions in Japanese.)

NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I think just waking up and, I don’t know, because we play tennis for a living. If I wake up and I’m happy to go play, I’m happy to do what I’m living for, I feel like I’ve been training for a really long time. Just to be in this position, I should be really thrilled. I don’t know. Like just keeping those emotions.

Yeah, I mean, for sure there’s no one that really thinks losing is fun. But for me, I’ve always been taught that when you lose, you learn more than when you win. I try to take that as a really important advice because I think it is true.

I think that today I learned more than she did, of course, because I had a lot of things that I could have learned from this match.

Yeah, I mean, it’s been rough because like Yoshikawa-san, I’m really grateful he came here. This is like the first tournament where he was like the coach-coach sort of. Before I used to just practice with him. I think everyone was so unsure what to do during practices, and he would ask me what I want to do. I never really say what I want. I just do what people tell me to do. It was a little bit hard.

Of course, there are things that he wanted me to do and I did them. Other than that, it’s just like I wasn’t really sure. You know, there’s, like, certain drills that you do that you now like the back of your hand, but then there’s other things that you don’t really think about. I think you need experience.

Well, no, I mean, honestly it would have been really funny if I called Kristy or something. But, no, I was thinking that I have to practice like it’s a Grand Slam. I wanted to try to see what would happen if I didn’t call them. Honestly, even if I did, I knew what was wrong. I knew I hit so many unforced errors. I knew that my serve wasn’t working well. I don’t think ever in my life I’ve been broken this many times.

I feel like we all knew what was going wrong, but I was watching myself play. I couldn’t really do anything about it. It was one of those moments.

Yeah, it wasn’t the ranking. But thankfully I do better when I have to sort of prove myself. Yeah, I mean, for me, the ranking, it’s just a number. Of course, I’m really happy to be 1, but it wasn’t really necessarily the biggest goal for me during Australian Open. I think there’s so many people right now that are playing this tournament that could be No. 1. For me, I just want to win tournaments, so…

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