Patrick McEnroe Osaka withdrawal news was like ‘a punch to the gut,’ says Patrick McEnroe

Tennis Patrick McEnroe Osaka withdrawal news was like ‘a punch to the gut,’ says Patrick McEnroe • Patrice Owen and McEnroe present draw at Melbourne Open

• McEnroe: ‘I wouldn’t want it to happen to my father’ Patrick McEnroe. Photograph: AAP/Pool

Patrick McEnroe has paid tribute to his “father figure” Patrice Owen who pulled out of the opening Grand Slam of the season due to “family reasons”, suggesting it was another blow for the game of tennis.

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Owen, whose two-year-old son Hugo died in an accident, was playing for the first time since his tie in Guangzhou last week and tweeted an apology to Tennis Australia, his tournament host, saying he had been dealing with the death of his son and “a lot of people close to me had to suffer a lot during the last two years.”

Nigel Sears, the head of tennis at Melbourne Park, said Owen had been “under a lot of emotional pressure for a lot of years” and that the sport had been “unfair on him”.

Owen’s withdrawal means Frances Tiafoe, another young US prospect, has to find an extra spot on the main draw when the draw is made on Saturday.

Patrice, Patrick’s older brother, will lead the Williams sisters’ box when they take on Australia’s Sam Stosur and Johanna Konta in the opening round of the Australian Open on Sunday.

Patrick McEnroe, an ex-world No2, said on Twitter: “I wouldn’t want it to happen to my father (Patrick), Patrick. Tough one. Feel for all concerned.”

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