World tennis hit by match-fixing reports, authorities back integrity unit

Mon Jan 18, 2016 2:19pm EST
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By Greg Stutchbury

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - World tennis was rocked on Monday by allegations that the game's authorities have failed to deal with widespread match-fixing, just as the Australian Open, the first grand slam tournament of the year, kicked off in Melbourne.

Tennis authorities rejected reports by the BBC and online BuzzFeed News, which said 16 players who have been ranked in the top 50 had been repeatedly flagged to the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) over suspicions they had thrown matches in the past decade.

Eight of those players were taking part in the Australian Open, the BBC and BuzzFeed News said.

The media reports, which follow corruption scandals in world soccer and athletics, created a stir at the event at Melbourne Park, with players expressing surprise at the allegations.

"When I'm playing, I can only answer for me, I play very hard, and every player I play seems to play hard," women's world number one Serena Williams told reporters.

"If that's going on, I don't know about it."

Men's world number seven Kei Nishikori of Japan said he had not heard of any incidence of match-fixing.

The BBC and BuzzFeed News said the TIU, set up to police illegal activities in tennis, either failed to act upon information that identified suspicious behavior amongst players, or impose any sanctions.   Continued...

A ball girl places tennis balls on the racquet of Kei Nishikori of Japan during his men's singles tennis match against Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan at the Wimbledon tennis championships in London June 26, 2012.    REUTERS/Toby Melville