Match-fixing talk swirls

MELBOURNE. — More players revealed match-fixing approaches yesterday as the Australian Open Grand Slam tournament came under close scrutiny following claims that corruption in tennis was widespread.

Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinakis said he had been targeted through social media, while a British former Davis Cup player said he was once offered an envelope stuffed with cash to throw a match.

According to Australian media, police were also monitoring the first round of the Australian Open, which finished yesterday, for suspicious results.

The latest developments come after the BBC and BuzzFeed, citing leaked documents, said 16 players who have reached the top 50 had repeatedly fallen under suspicion without facing action.

“More than half” of the players, who include singles and doubles Grand Slam champions, are at the Australian Open in Melbourne, according to BuzzFeed.

The controversy is just the latest to hit the sports world after allegations of doping cover-ups rocked athletics and football body FIFA was engulfed by a string of corruption scandals.

Roger Federer called for “concrete” facts while Novak Djokovic spoke of his team once being offered $200 000 to fix a match as the multiple Grand Slam champions reacted to claims of widespread match-rigging in tennis on Monday.

Both Federer and defending champion Djokovic strolled through their opening matches in Melbourne, but were inevitably asked about the story rocking the sport.

“I would like to hear the names,” 34-year-old Federer told reporters when asked to comment on claims that Grand Slam champions were among the players involved and that eight of them were playing in the Australian Open.

“I would love to hear names. Then at least it’s concrete stuff and you can actually debate about it.

“Was it the player? Was it the support team? Who was it? Was it before? Was it a doubles player, a singles player? Which slam?

“It’s so all over the place. It’s nonsense to answer something that is pure speculation.”

Federer, the most successful male player of all time with 17 majors, said it was “super serious” for the sport, but said he would be surprised if top players were involved.

“So how high up does it go? The higher it goes, the more surprised I would be, no doubt about it,” he said. — AFP.

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