Top seeds progress, Djokovic denies match-fixing report
By Nick Mulvenney
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - World number one Novak Djokovic swept regally into the third round of the Australian Open on Wednesday before being forced to deny any involvement in the tennis match-fixing scandal that has dogged the first three days of the grand slam.
The Serbian defending champion granted Quentin Halys a 100-minute audience on Rod Laver Arena before despatching the French teenager 6-1 6-2 7-6(3) but he enjoyed a less comfortable ride in the post-match media conference.
Alerted to a story in an Italian newspaper suggesting his loss to now-retired French player Fabrice Santoro in Paris in 2007 was fixed, the 28-year-old denied it point blank.
"It's not true," he said when told he had been accused of deliberately losing. "What it is to say? I've lost that match."
"Anybody can create a story about that match or for that matter any of the matches of the top players losing in the early rounds, I think it's just absurd."
Before the media conference, the last of the day, it had appeared the reverberations from Monday's media reports alleging numerous top-50 players had been flagged up for possibly throwing matches but not investigated by the tennis authorities, were fading.
Back on court, Djokovic was joined in the third round by women's champion Serena Williams, 17-times grand slam champion Federer and Maria Sharapova who all made short work of their second-round opponents.
Following Tuesday's defeats for former men's champion Rafa Nadal and women's second seed Simona Halep, the only real shock on day four came in the penultimate match of the day when Czech sixth seed Petra Kvitova, twice a Wimbledon winner, was beaten 6-4 6-4 by naturalised local Daria Gavrilova. Continued...