Wed, Jul 26, 2006 - Page 18 News List

Davis Cup security worries Hewitt

AFP , SYDNEYAFP, LONDON

Tennis Australia announced extra security yesterday for its team contesting the Davis Cup semi-final in Buenos Aires after Lleyton Hewitt threatened to boycott the tie, saying he feared for his safety.

Former world No. 1 Hewitt is reviled in Argentina after a series of clashes with players from the South American country and told Sydney's Daily Telegraph he was apprehensive about the Sept. 22-24 tie.

"The biggest concern is my safety," he said.

"The situation has got steadily worse for visiting teams and it takes only one wacko over there to turn things on its head. I've got my family to think about and there are issues around the security situation," Hewitt said.

The bad blood between Hewitt and the Argentines began at last year's Australian Open when Juan Ignacio Chela took exception to the Australian's histrionics and spat at him as they changed ends in their third round match, picking up a fine for unsportsmanlike conduct.

It continued later last year when Hewitt and Guillermo Coria traded insults and accused each other of bad sportsmanship after an ill-tempered Davis Cup singles rubber in Sydney.

After Australia won through to the semi-final in Buenos Aires, Davis Cup veteran Wayne Arthurs joked that Hewitt was a wanted man in Argentina and "they'll be throwing more than the kitchen sink at him".

But Tennis Australia spokesman John Lindsay said his organisation was taking the issue seriously and doing everything it could to ensure a safe environment for the players.

Jeremy Bates resigned as Great Britain's Davis Cup captain on Monday after the team's dismal home defeat to Israel in Eastbourne at the weekend.

Bates will continue as the Lawn Tennis Association's interim head of performance despite handing in his resignation on Monday afternoon.

The former British number one player had been widely expected to stand down after Britain's 3-2 defeat consigned them to a play-off with Ukraine in September to avoid dropping into the Euro-African Zone Group II.

Bates's reign, which began in April 2004 against Luxembourg after he succeeded Roger Taylor, yielded just two wins from six matches in charge.

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