Playing her first tournament since the Australian Open and awaiting her first-round match against fellow major champion Sloane Stephens, Naomi Osaka chatted with the media at the BNP Paribas Open on Wednesday. Anita Stahl attended the press conference on behalf of Women’s Tennis Blog and she will cover the entire tournament on site from now on.
Here are some interesting excerpts from the light-hearted presser, including talks about Osaka’s new puppy, considerably lower pressure she faces right now, and a suggested mixed doubles partnership with Nick Kyrgios.
Naomi Osaka, who won her maiden title at Indian Wells in 2018, was in good spirits speaking with press ahead of the tournament on Wednesday. Asked to reflect on how she is doing, she explained: “I’m at peace with myself, which I think is a really good feeling to have as a person.”
The four-time Grand Slam champion added, “I’m really grateful because I was watching qualies the other day and I was walking around and usually there’s people who are like, ‘win the tournament’ or ‘I have tickets to the final, see you there’ kind of thing. But actually, everyone was saying ‘I hope you have fun.’ I know that’s not the biggest difference, but it felt more personal.”
The Japanese player also clarified some stories her fans might have followed on Instagram and Twitter this week. Did you see pictures of a new dog gracing the tournament page? His name is Butta and he is Osaka’s new pup. She gave some background on bringing him to site, explaining:
“For me, Indian Wells and Miami is a refreshing period and I also considered it sort of a dog haven. I remember seeing Venus’ and Wozniacki’s dogs always running around. I always found that quite cute, so I wanted to bring Butta out here because I was sure he was going to enjoy it and he does a lot.” Butta even has his own Instagram account.
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Osaka also responded to Nick Kyrgios’s Instagram suggestion that they team up for mixed doubles. She was clearly amused by the thought, but conceded that, “if he wants to attempt to carry us then I’ll consider it, but I haven’t played doubles in years and I’m not quite that great at it and he just won the Australian Open doubles so, if he wants to do everything then yeah.”
In her first round match, Osaka will face American Sloane Stephens. It will be the first blockbuster match of the tournament.