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Tennis-McNamee quits as Australian Open chief

Written by: Staff

SYDNEY, Mar 5 (Reuters) Paul McNamee has announced his resignation as chief executive of the Australian Open after 12 years in the job.

''There is never an easy time to move on but I feel I am doing so on a high after another great Australian Open,'' the 51 year old said in a brief statement.

The first grand slam of the year has flourished in the past decade under McNamee, drawing record attendances and producing increasing profits as well as forging closer ties with Asia.

But McNamee, a former Wimbledon and Australian Open doubles champion, had come under fire from Lleyton Hewitt over the Australian Open Rebound Ace courts.

The former world number one had demanded the surfaces be sped up to increase his chances of winning his home grand slam, but McNamee refused, saying it was unfair to give preferential treatment to any one player.

Hewitt pulled out of Australia's Davis Cup tie with Switzerland last month and threatened to skip next month's quarter-final against Belarus, before abruptly announcing on Thursday he had changed his mind and would be available.

McNamee told local newspapers the row had nothing to do with his resignation.

Hewitt, speaking to reporters in Las Vegas where he reached the final of the Tennis Channel Open, said he didn't know if McNamee's decision to retire would help Australian tennis.

''I don't think Paul saw eye to eye with a lot of people,' Hewitt said.

Reuters PDS VP1004

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