MELBOURNE. — Former world number one Lleyton Hewitt slammed match-fixing allegations as an “absolute farce” yesterday as his emotional retirement at the Australian Open was tainted by the corruption claims that have rocked tennis.
Hewitt, after going down fighting to David Ferrer at his farewell tournament, rounded on an anonymous online blog linking his name to the explosive report which has overshadowed the year’s first Grand Slam.
The 34-year-old Australian called it a “joke” and an “absolute farce” that he should be linked with the match-fixing allegations outlined by the original BBC and BuzzFeed report, which did not reveal any names.
“I think it’s a joke to deal with it. You know, obviously, yeah, there’s no possible way,” said Hewitt, after exiting in the second round.
“I know my name’s now been thrown into it. I don’t think anyone here would think that I’ve done anything (like) corruption or match-fixing. It’s just absurd.
“For anyone that tries to go any further with it, then good luck. Take me on with it. Yeah, it’s disappointing. I think throwing my name out there with it makes the whole thing an absolute farce.”
Hewitt’s strong denial comes after top-ranked Novak Djokovic also rejected a claim aired in the Italian press that he deliberately lost a match in 2007.
The spiralling intrigue comes after the BBC and BuzzFeed said 16 unnamed players who reached the top 50 over the past decade had been suspected of repeatedly fixing matches, but never faced action.
Tennis is just the latest sport to be hit by controversy after athletics was engulfed in claims of a doping cover-up and football body FIFA suffered multiple scandals.
It cast a shadow over an emotional night for Hewitt, who bowed out 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 in the second round in combustible fashion, earning a code violation for swearing and calling the umpire a “frigging idiot”. — AFP.