Former world number one tennis player Lleyton Hewitt of Australia says he will skip the Athens Summer Olympics next year because the international sporting event is too close to the U.S. Open tennis tournament.
Hewitt says he is concentrating on the sport's four grand slam tournaments (Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open) and helping Australia retain the Davis Cup. The Olympic tennis tournament will be played August 15 to 22, while the U.S. Open gets under way just eight days later. Hewitt was quoted in a Melbourne newspaper Thursday as saying he played in the 2000 Sydney Games because they took place after all four of the majors had been played. He says many players also missed the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 because it was too close to the U.S. Open.
The Australian Olympic Committee said it respects his decision but hopes he will reconsider. In a statement, the AOC said Hewitt is a "great competitor for his country," and they admire "the spirit and tenacity he displays when he wears the green and gold" for Australia.