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Match-fixing claims cast shadow over Aussie Open
02:14 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Beaten player receives hate messages on social media over fixing scandal

Buzzfeed/BBC investigation: Match-fixing evidence ignored

No names mentioned, Tours deny claims

Novak Djokovic says was once offered $200,000

Melbourne CNN  — 

After the bombshell of a powerful report saying match fixing was rife in tennis, the game’s stars were left picking up the pieces Tuesday at the sport’s first major tournament of the season.

One leading player was trolled on social media after losing his first-round match at the Australian Open, while Andy Murray, one of the “Big Four” in tennis with two grand slam titles to his name, didn’t hold back in calling for the authorities to raise their game.

Monday’s report has certainly had a detrimental effect on world No. 65 Robin Haase after the 28-year-old lost his first-round match to Mirza Basic in three sets.

“Normally I get every match, four to five haters messaging,” Haase, a Dutchman who formerly served on the ATP player council, told “Yesterday I got more than 40.

‘It’s not nice. ‘You a******, I hope you die from cancer.’ All these things, so of course this doesn’t help.”

Murray called for more transparency as suspicious matches are being investigated, arguing more needs to be done to educate younger players who may be tempted by huge sums of cash.

While world No. 1 Novak Djokovic has said he was indirectly offered $200,000 to throw a match almost a decade ago, Murray said he has never been approached.

“I think the more proactive you are with educating young players the better on matters like this,” Murray told reporters in Melbourne after a first-round win over Alexander Zverev, one of those younger players at 18.

“I mean, certainly throughout my whole career I was never warned about that or told about that or anyone said to me how you should handle that if you’re in that situation.”

‘Highly suspicious bets’

The investigation by the BBC and BuzzFeed News claimed a former grand slam singles champion was among a group of 16 players “who have repeatedly been reported for losing games when highly suspicious bets have been placed against them.”

It also stated that one current top-50 player had been repeatedly reported for fixing first sets. No names were mentioned in the investigation.

“Obviously, you know, some of the stuff that I read yesterday I wasn’t aware of,” added Murray.

“Some of it I was already. And, yeah, I guess as a player you just want to be made aware kind of everything that’s going on. I think we deserve to know everything that’s sort of out there.

“Some of it will be true, some of it might not be true. But I’m always very curious with that stuff across really all sports, as well. I think sports could in general be much, much more transparent.”

‘Nothing to hide’

Chris Kermode, the figurehead for the governing bodies when they denounced match fixing Monday, said it wasn’t that simple.

“I often hear this word, ‘transparency,’” Kermode told CNN before Murray spoke. “For obvious reasons with any investigation, you aren’t going to reveal which players are investigated because you get into libel and I think that’s fair enough.”

The ATP head said funds weren’t an issue for the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU), which was set up in 2008 in the wake of an investigation into a match involving former No. 3 Nikolay Davydenko and Martin Vassallo Arguello in Sopot, Poland in 2007. Neither player was charged following suspicious betting patterns.

On Monday, the TIU’s director of integrity Nigel Willerton said the body’s hands were tied in obtaining evidence because players and their support teams aren’t obliged to hand over, for instance, phone records and emails.

He declined an interview request Tuesday.

“There has never ever been any time that Nigel has asked for more funds from all the governing bodies,” said Kermode.

“We’ve all supplied it. It’s absolutely fine. So I’m happy, he’s happy with the investment. If that unit wants more money we are willing to give it and we are constantly reviewing it. That’s the big message. There’s nothing to hide here at all.”

As the issue rumbled on, other players weren’t as critical of procedures as Murray.

“I think it’s a very bad thing to put this out without coming out with evidence,” Haase told CNN. “If you do this, come with facts. Then my answer would be different to the situation because right now I think it’s damning the sport for no reason.”

Read: Former No. 1 Wozniacki exits in first round

Mahesh Bhupathi, a multiple grand slam doubles winner, told CNN: “There’s a lot of talk but there’s no proof. Until someone proves it to us I don’t think we’re willing to accept it.”

They were similar to the thoughts of 17-time grand slam winner Roger Federer, who said Monday he wanted names mentioned.

Black eye for sport

Haase said he “maybe” played against someone who was throwing a match. He didn’t go into details. He echoed Murray’s sentiments on wanting more details about matches that were under a cloud.

He and this month’s Brisbane champion Milos Raonic, though, felt that instructions were clear about what to do if approached to fix matches.

“I think there’s just one avenue to go to,” Haase said. “I don’t think there needs to be more. I think with the TIU, that’s the place to go to.

“So I think that for everyone it’s clear. At least it is for me. We’ve had a lot of emails from the ATP the last couple of years that if something is going on, please let them know. Give all the information you have, so I think yeah that’s good.

“If the players (were involved in match fixing), they should be punished really hard. And I hope they don’t play at all.”

Meanwhile Raonic rued the sport receiving a black eye at the first major of the season.

“Tennis is a beautiful (sport),” he told reporters. “There are many great things about it. It’s a little bit, sorry for the language, s****y to read that and sort of see that the attention of the first grand slam of the year is more on that than I think the Australian Open, which is one of the four biggest events we play.”

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