Under the Patronage of H.h. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Since Australia to now, how did that period go for you? How did you take in what you accomplished?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, I feel like this time it wasn’t as hectic as US Open. So for me, I was a bit more peaceful. I don’t know, I just went home immediately after, two days after, and I got to see my family, so…
It was really nice.
Q. You were saying you don’t celebrate much in the family, but you’re trying to change that. Did you change that?
NAOMI OSAKA: We had, like, a little party the day after. But, I mean, my dad was dancing and stuff, but I wasn’t really (smiling).
Q. Why the split from the coach after so much success with him?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I was expecting this question.
Like, for me, the main thing I know, everyone thinks it was a money-related issue, but it wasn’t. For me, that’s one of the most hurtful things I’ve ever heard. I travel with everyone on my team, I see them more than my family. I would never, like, do that to them.
Yeah, I think my reason is I wouldn’t put success over my happiness. Like, I think everyone knows, in Charleston and stuff, I’ve had moments. I don’t know, that’s my main thing.
I’m not going to say anything bad about him because, of course, I’m really grateful for all the things that he’s done. Yeah, I wouldn’t just come here and say anything bad.
I feel like, if anything, you would have to be around him to see or ask him.
Q. Were you thinking about this during the Australian Open or before? Did that decision come to your mind after the Australian Open?
NAOMI OSAKA: No, it was kind of brewing in Australia. I think some people could see that if they saw how we interacted.
I would not want to split on really bad terms, I think, because of course he was sort of the one that, like, made me open up more to people. I didn’t want it to be really, like, hard stopping.
Q. How have you felt since then? How have you felt since you made the decision?
NAOMI OSAKA: I felt really happy. I’m surrounded by people that genuinely care. They have such positive energy. I’m really grateful for everyone that’s around me at this time.
Q. Who is with you here helping you? Do you have in mind the timeframe of when you would want to hire your next coach?
NAOMI OSAKA: Abdul is here, my dad is here. You probably won’t see him because he’ll be sleeping (smiling). Miss Superstar, Kristy, is here. And Yoshikawa-san.
Q. Do you have a timeframe of when you would like to hire a next coach?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yes, after this tournament I would want to start looking at people. It’s not really ideal to go to Indian Wells without a coach.
Q. How does it impact you for this tournament this week, not having Sascha here?
THE MODERATOR: I think we can move on from the coaching questions.
NAOMI OSAKA: It’s okay. I’m just trying to figure out what I should say.
Yeah, I mean, of course, he does a lot of things. I think, of course, I’m going to miss some of the things that he does.
But for me, all the people that I have right now, they’re all willing to do the things that he does. I don’t think it will be that much of a big deal.
Q. Because of the success you have had over the past year, your mentality now moving forward, your search for a coach, what would you be wanting in your next coach? What’s the most important thing for you?
NAOMI OSAKA: For me, just to have a positive mindset. I don’t want someone that’s in the box saying negative stuff. That would be the worst.
Yeah, someone that’s kind of direct, not afraid to say things to my face. I’d rather someone say it directly to me than go around my back. That’s one of the biggest things.
Q. Two Grand Slams, fantastic success as a player. How do you see yourself changing over the past six months? Did you ever foresee this happening? How has it changed you?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I think for me one of the biggest things is I have more confidence in myself. I think last year, honestly all I wanted was just to get to the quarters of a slam. Now I’ve won two, and I know that I can do it. It’s like a different mentality.
Q. This is your first tournament as world No. 1. Does it feel different? When you saw the ‘No. 1’ next to your name, what came to your mind?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, of course, I was really happy. But I feel like, I don’t know…
After the initial happiness, because it feels like a dream, and of course you’re little, you want to be No. 1. That’s one of the things that comes out of your mouth whenever someone asks what your dream is.
I don’t know, I have that moment of happiness, then I just wanted to practice more.
Q. Last year Garbine was sitting here, telling us when she was No. 1 for the period she was, she said she always felt like people were coming for her. It’s competitive on the WTA Tour. Do you think you’re going to start looking at the rankings and realize if you’re at a tournament, No. 1 is up for grabs, or will you shut that out?
NAOMI OSAKA: No, for me I don’t want to say I don’t care about being No. 1. Like winning tournaments is always the number one priority. I feel like if you can do that consistently, you’re going to be No. 1 no matter what.
Yeah, rankings isn’t really my goal.
Q. How is your back?
NAOMI OSAKA: My back is much better now. Thanks.
Q. After the US Open, you did a lot of interviews, got to meet people. After the Australian Open, did you have any standout moments, someone got in touch with you you didn’t expect?
NAOMI OSAKA: No. People are bored of me now. They’re over it (smiling).
Q. I started following your photography account on Instagram. How do you feel about your budding photography career?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, I mean, it’s not that great. Sometimes I’m a little bit lazy with it. That’s why I got kind of surprised.
But it’s something that I’ve been trying to do more because we travel a lot.
(Naomi’s answers to questions in Japanese.)
NAOMI OSAKA: I think during Australian Open, I was just trying to tell myself to get through it. I’m not sure, but I think you guys noticed.
Well, Yoshikawa-san is not really my coach-coach. He’s just been helping me since I was 16. He’s one of the people that knows my game the most. He’s always around at certain tournaments, he’s always helping. I thought it would be a good idea for him to come here since I’m sort of stuck right now. This is the one tournament that I think I need someone around that’s very helpful.
Yeah, I mean, of course this tournament, the next few tournaments are going to be very important to me. Indian Wells is coming up. I know that I have to defend that. But, of course, one of my biggest goals is just to have fun.
I think I’m in a really good position right now. Last year I wasn’t even in the top 50, and now I’m No. 1. One of the biggest things is to just have fun with everything you’re doing, and I’m really happy to be here now.