Former world No1 Roger Federer has called for suspected cheats to be named and shamed following allegations that a number of leading tennis stars may have fixed matches.
Federer, speaking after his first-round win over Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili at the Australian Open on Monday, addressed claims that 16 players to have been ranked in the world’s top 50 – some of them grand slam winners – had been allowed to continue competing despite being involved in multiple suspicious results.
“I would love to hear names. Then at least it’s concrete stuff and you can actually debate about it,” said the 17-time grand slam champion.
“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 super serious and it’s super important to maintain the integrity of our sport. So how high up does it go? The higher it goes, the more surprised I would be.”
Current world No1 and Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic, expanded on a previously revealed offer of more than £100,000 to throw a first-round match made to him at the 2007 St Petersburg Open.
“I was approached through people that were working with me at that time, that were with my team. Of course, we threw it away right away. It didn't even get to me,” he said.
“It made me feel terrible because I don’t want to be in any way linked to this. It’s an act of bad sportsmanship, a crime in sport honestly. I think there is no room for it in any sport, especially in tennis.”
Djokovic, who opened his title defence in Melbourne with a straight-sets defeat of South Korean Hyeon Chung, attempted to play down suggestions that tennis has a problem, however.
“We have, I think, evolved and upgraded our programs and authorities to deal with these particular cases,” he added. “There is no real proof or evidence yet of any active players [involved], for that matter. As long as it’s like that, it’s just speculation.”
Chris Kermode, chairman of men’s elite tour the ATP, hit back at suggestions that the sport’s chiefs had been lax on match-fixing.
“The Tennis Integrity Unit [the sport’s dedicated anti-corruption body] and the tennis authorities absolutely reject any suggestion that evidence of match-fixing has been suppressed for any reason or isn’t being thoroughly investigated,” he said.
“In its investigations, the Tennis Integrity Unit has to find evidence as opposed to information, suspicion, or hearsay.”