As the other singles matches went on after a fourth and fifth set between Venus Williams and Kristina Mladenovic in the women’s draw, there was still some time left in court when Patrick McEnroe – New York Open director, and great-uncle of Andy – made a statement to the BBC. In it, he announced that Japan’s Naomi Osaka had requested her withdrawal from a planned match against Roger Federer, citing a knee injury.
Following the announcement, McEnroe was asked by BBC tennis presenter Hazel Irvine if he felt sympathy for the 17-time Grand Slam champion. “No, I don’t,” McEnroe said, adding, “It was absolutely shocking. We all were as shocked as anybody.”
After a prolonged look at the announcement screen, McEnroe went on: “To announce one player has withdrawn a day prior to the match was almost an accident waiting to happen.”
The quick response came after a 10-year-old boy, Kai Panichgul, had a chance meeting with Caroline Wozniacki on Saturday – with the latter asking Panichgul if he “would play against Roger Federer.” Wozniacki went on to reveal her reaction to the news, tweeting: “Just heard news about Naomi getting withdrawn from the match yesterday. The patience and tenacity she displayed throughout her tournament has left a powerful mark. Thank you. I’m so proud of her.”
Despite Naomi pulling out, Federer did see his rematch with Taro Daniel, while Venus, Mladenovic and Marin Cilic all advanced. Women’s top seed Karolina Pliskova lost in straight sets to Magdalena Rybarikova, while Jelena Ostapenko was convincingly beaten by Timea Bacsinszky.
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