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Federer and Djokovic wary over tennis fixing claims

Federer wants details while Djokovic hasn't heard rumours since 2007 approach

By Paul Newman

Published 19/01/2016

Roger Federer and Serena Williams are unaware of match-fixing while Novak Djokovic rejected a 2007 offer
Roger Federer and Serena Williams are unaware of match-fixing while Novak Djokovic rejected a 2007 offer
Roger Federer and Serena Williams are unaware of match-fixing while Novak Djokovic rejected a 2007 offer
Roger Federer and Serena Williams are unaware of match-fixing while Novak Djokovic rejected a 2007 offer

Roger Federer wants the authors of a report alleging widespread match-fixing in tennis to name the players suspected of being involved.

The 34-year-old Swiss, who would also like to see more resources put into the sport's fight against corruption, said that until names were named the allegations would be "pure speculation".

An investigation into match-fixing released by BuzzFeed News and the BBC was the talk of the first day of the Australian Open. While the tennis authorities insisted that every effort was being made to root out corruption, some players cast doubt on the allegations.

In the investigation, which will reveal further findings in an edition of File on 4 on Radio 4 tonight, it is alleged that the tennis authorities have been regularly warned about the activities of a group of 16 players, all of whom have been ranked in the world's top 50 and some of whom are Grand Slam champions.

Half of those players are competing here in Australia and none of them has been sanctioned, it was claimed. Investigators said they could not name them because it was impossible to prove match-fixing without access to phone, bank and computer records.

Federer said it was "so easy" to make such allegations.

"I would love to hear names," he said. "Then at least it's concrete and you can actually debate it. Was it the player? Was it the support team? Who was it? 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."

Gilles Simon, a member of the Association of Tennis Professionals' Player Council, said: "It is a bit like anti-doping - you feel like someone is dropping a bomb on the first day of a Slam. Is there any evidence? Say it and everyone will be happy to know and take action.

"When I saw in the article there were 16 names, I knew that it was rubbish, because 16 is too many."

None of the players who spoke about the allegations could recall any experiences of attempted match-fixing except for Novak Djokovic, who confirmed a report from nine years ago that he had been indirectly offered $200,000 to throw a match in St Petersburg.

"I was approached through people that were working with me at that time, that were with my team," Djokovic said.

"Of course, we (rejected it) right away. The guy that was trying to talk to me, he didn't even get to me directly. In those days there were some rumours. They were dealt with. I haven't heard anything similar. I was never approached directly.

"It made me feel terrible because I don't want to be in any way linked to this - somebody may call it an opportunity. For me, it's an act of bad sportsmanship."

Djokovic described match-fixing as "a crime in sport" and added: "Of course, there is no room for it."

Serena Williams said she had never suspected match-fixing in any game she had played.

"If that's going on, I don't know about it," she said. "I only answer for me. I play very hard and every player I play seems to play hard."

Marin Cilic, the 2014 US Open champion, also said he had never seen any evidence of match-fixing. "I don't think it exists, not at this high level," the World No.13 said.

Federer said he would like more money to be spent on the fight against match-fixing.

The Tennis Integrity Unit was set up eight years ago to investigate allegations of corruption.

"Hopefully there's more funding," Federer said. "It's the same as doping. We've got to be super aggressive. We need to make sure the integrity of the game is maintained because without that, why do you come and watch a match? Because you don't know the outcome.

"As long as we don't know it's going to be exciting. The moment that gets taken away, there's no point any more."

Life bans in tennis

1. ALEXANDROS JAKUPOVIC

The Greek Davis Cup player was banned for life in December 2015 for five breaches of the TIU’s anti-corruption programme. Jakupovic, aged 33 at the time of his ban, played just one ATP World Tour main draw match, losing in three sets to Spain’s Alberto Ramos-Vinolas in Kitzbuhel in 2014.

2. DAVID SAVIC

Serbian Savic was banned for life in October 2011 after being found guilty of three anti-corruption violations arising from the previous year. Savic, then 26, never played on the main ATP World Tour and his highest ranking was 363 in 2009.

3. DANIEL KOLLERER

Kollerer became the first player to be banned for life following a TIU investigation in May 2011. The unit found Kollerer guilty of making invitations to other players to fix matches on five occasions. The Austrian reached a career-high world number 55 in 2009, the same year in which he reached the third round of the US Open.

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