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Hewitt threatens to sue ATP

Sydney: World No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt has notified the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) that he intends to take legal action against the sport’s governing body, the ATP said on Tuesday.

The Australian is seeking damages and legal costs from the ATP after he was fined $103,000 at the Cincinnati Masters tournament last August for missing a compulsory television interview.

Hewitt and his management on Tuesday declined to comment on the issue but Australian Associated Press (AAP) reported that he wants around $1.5 million from the ATP.

The ATP said on Tuesday it had been notified by Hewitt’s lawyers that the 22-year-old intended to take legal action — most likely in his home state South Australia — unless the matter could be resolved privately.

“We can confirm that we have received a letter from attorneys for Lleyton Hewitt saying that he intends to take legal action against the ATP in Australia,” an ATP spokesperson told AAP.

“The findings of the appeals panel and the subsequent fine amount are consistent with similar violations. It would be unfortunate if this matter were pursued in the courts, needlessly prolonging a situation that should otherwise be concluded.”

The fine was reduced to $19,800 on appeal but Hewitt is reportedly claiming damages to his reputation over the matter and that the ATP Tour “intentionally and without justification” interfered in his business affairs.

It may also be the reason behind Hewitt’s abrupt decision to pull out of this week’s Monte Carlo Masters — an ATP Tour event — officially because it was “not on his schedule”.

Hewitt has also pulled out of next week’s Barcelona Open, the player’s management said on Tuesday.

Hewitt’s agents at Octagon said he would miss the Barcelona event because the player’s doctor has advised that he continue to take several weeks’ rest following two tournament wins in the US on hard courts in March at Scottsdale and Indian Wells and Australia’s quarter final Davis Cup victory in Sweden earlier this month.

Hewitt has always disputed the circumstances surrounding the missed interview with host network ESPN at the Cincinnati Masters, saying he was prepared to do it.

Since then, he has also accused the ATP of lying about the matter, slammed the Tour as a badly-run “circus” and threatened to cut back on his Tour schedule.

Hewitt’s father Glynn said his son’s stand was being made on principle. “The appeal lodged on behalf of Lleyton was never about money,” he told AAP.

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