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Pitfalls of fixing must be made clearer, says Andy Murray

By Tom Allnut

Published 20/01/2016

No bother: Andy Murray gears up for a backhand during his 6-1 6-2 6-3 Australian Open first-round win over Alexander Zverev
No bother: Andy Murray gears up for a backhand during his 6-1 6-2 6-3 Australian Open first-round win over Alexander Zverev

Andy Murray would not be surprised if players ranked in the top 50 were fixing matches and has called for better education on the pitfalls of corruption.

Murray thrashed 18-year-old German Alexander Zverev 6-1 6-2 6-3 in the first round of the Australian Open but questions after his win were dominated by the recent allegations of match-fixing in tennis.

An investigation carried out by the BBC and BuzzFeed has claimed that a group of 16 players were repeatedly flagged up as suspicious to the sport's governing bodies but have been allowed to continue playing unchecked.

Corruption has been reported before in the lower levels of tennis but the BBC and BuzzFeed allege all of the 16 players have ranked in the World's top 50, more than half of them were competing in the Australian Open first round and the group included winners of Grand Slam titles.

Roger Federer was sceptical about the possibility of elite players fixing matches but when Murray was asked if he would be surprised, the Scot said: "No, not really".

Murray, who says he has never been approached to fix matches, believes tennis authorities must do more to ensure young players are better educated about the dangers of corruption.

The ATP, which governs the men's professional tour, currently requires all players who break into the top 250 to attend the 'ATP University'.

The University puts on three-day seminars in London and Miami, providing education on anti-corruption as well as other topics such as social media, financial management, media training and anti-doping.

"I've been aware of it (match-fixing) since I was quite young and I think when people come with big sums of money when you're at that age, some people can make mistakes," Murray said. "I do think it's important that from a younger age players are better educated and made more aware of what they should do in those situations and how decisions like that can affect your career and whole sport.

"Across all sports I don't think that's done particularly well."

The allegations have brought scrutiny on the Australian Open's partnership with betting company William Hill, which is a major sponsor of the tournament. The ATP World Tour also hosted an event called the bet-at-home Open until 2015.

"I'm not really pro that. I think it's a little bit hypocritical," Murray said. "I don't believe the players are allowed to be sponsored by betting companies but then the tournaments are. I think it's a bit strange."

Spain's World No.45 Fernando Verdasco gave his view after his first-round conquest of Rafael Nadal.

Verdasco, who stressed he has never been approached to fix matches, said: "We know all that is out there and we will fight to change that. But it's hard. There are many people in this world and it's impossible to control everyone.

"But we are trying. I would take out the betting. But I don't have that power. We are trying to fight against that."

Murray is due to meet Verdasco in the semi-finals and the Briton took one step closer after cruising past Zverev with ease.

Big-serving Australian Sam Groth now awaits in round two and Murray was satisfied with his opening performance.

"He's young, he's one of the best young players in the world and he's going to be around for a long time," Murray said.

"It got tough at the end, a lot of long games and rallies, Alex fought through to the end and made it very competitive."

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