Naomi Osaka likes her 'beautiful' Chinese name, Del Potro feeling 'mature' at 30 - Beijing diary

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Naomi Osaka had a great Tuesday here in Beijing as she handed out a 6-1, 6-0 drubbing to Danielle Collins in the second round and also found out she secured a spot at this month’s WTA Finals in Singapore.

“AHHHHHHHHH omg I’ve never been so excited!!!” tweeted Osaka when news broke out of her Singapore qualification.

Her excitement showed during her press conference, which was 10 minutes of must-see TV.

The US Open champion was told by a Chinese journalist that there’s been a debate among local media about how they should refer to her in their stories. He asked her if she prefers being called “Naomi” phonetically, or the literal translation of her name in Chinese, which is “Zhimei”.


Osaka asked the reporter what her name actually meant and he said it meant ‘beautiful’.








“Ooh,” Osaka said shyly. “That’s kind of cool.


“My thing is, I like the translation one. But I don’t know, what if someone calls me by my name but I don’t know if they’re calling me?”


She ultimately settled on Zhimei.


Osaka had mentioned in her previous press conference that qualifying for Singapore was a huge goal for her and her team actually tried to hide the news from her that she booked her ticket to the WTA Finals fearing she would lose her “straightforward mentality”, now that the goal has been reached.


The 20-year-old Japanese had won the WTA Rising stars event in Singapore back in 2015 and said she was keen to return. I asked her what her standout memories were from that Rising Stars event, expecting her to mention dumplings or chili crab or the infinity pool at the Marina Bay Sands. Instead, she mentioned a fellow player: Ons Jabeur, who was also part of the Rising Stars field.


“I remember everyone ate dinner in this, like, tree. It looks like Avatar at night,” recalled Osaka.


“Then, to be honest, I just remember Ons. She was just talking to me non-stop. I’m really grateful for her because, like, the amount of shyness that I am right now, back then it was way worse. So, yeah, I mean, even now to this day, she still does some weird stuff around me. For me, the Singapore is Ons.”


Another journalist asked Osaka about the cover of Australian Tennis Magazine on which she is featured, with the tagline: Queen of Cool. Does she feel like the ‘queen of cool’?


“I think actually I’m very emotional. So the fact that people tell me that they can’t read my emotions too much, I think it’s been something I’ve been working on for years now. Just the fact that it’s finally paying off, I think it’s exciting,” said Osaka.


“But I don’t like the word ‘cool’ because then I feel like when someone meets me, they’ll be disappointed or something. So, uhm, they can use ‘expressionless’ or something.”


Don’t think ‘expressionless’ would have fit on the cover though!



FOREVER YOUNG


Meanwhile, Juan Martin del Potro was also in a good mood when he spoke to the press after his straight-sets win over Albert Ramos-Vinolas to make the second round.


The Argentine top seed turned 30 recently (on September 23) and joked that he already feels “mature” now that he’s hit that magic number.


“Thank you for saying that,” he said with a smile, when he was reminded of his age.


“Do I look older? No? I think I’m mature now. No, I think is the same. I had a nice party at home with friends, family. We had many things to celebrate, not just my birthday. I think I could be playing for more years. I don’t know how many. But I’m feeling good with 30, so we’ll see in the future.”



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