(Reuters) - Australian teenager Oliver Anderson, one of the brightest young talents in tennis, has been charged by police with involvement in match fixing following an investigation, local media reported on Thursday.
Police in Victoria said in a statement that an unnamed 18-year-old Queensland man had been charged.
Australian media identified Anderson and quoted a family statement saying the teenager from Brisbane was cooperating fully with authorities.
Anderson, winner of last year’s Australian Open Boys title, has been charged with fixing a match at the Traralgon Challenger tournament in Victoria last October.
The news comes in the build-up to the season’s first grand slam, the Australian Open, where Anderson made his major breakthrough 12 months ago by lifting the junior crown.
A Victoria Police statement said: ”Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit detectives and bookmakers assisted with the investigation.
“The Queensland man was charged with engaging in conduct that corrupts a betting outcome.”
Local media reported that the charge relates to a first-round match in a Challenger tournament, a lower-level event on the ATP Tour, when Anderson was allegedly approached to ‘throw’ the first set against another Australian, Harrison Lombe.
Anderson lost the first set 4-6 before winning the next two 6-0 6-2. He then lost his second round match.
Anderson, coached by former professional Wayne Arthurs, is regarded as a promising prospect within the sport.
A spokesman for Anderson’s family was reported by the Melbourne Age newspaper as saying: “Oliver is cooperating fully with authorities. He now awaits the legal process.”
The opening days of last year’s Australian Open were overshadowed by revelations in a report by the BBC and online BuzzFeed News that 16 players who had 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.
Then world number one Novak Djokovic also denied as “absurd” allegations that he had thrown a match as a teenager.
After winning his quarter-final match in the Qatar Open on Thursday, Djokovic said he was very disappointed to hear about the allegations involving Anderson.
“Very disappointing to hear, that, especially considering the fact that he’s young and won the junior grand slam,” Djokovic said.
“Obviously the quality is there and the potential is there.”
World number one Andy Murray, who also won in Doha, did not want to comment about the case but said the issue of match-fixing in tennis needed to be tackled.
”It’s disappointing for the game any time something like that comes out,“ said Murray. ”However, if people are caught and charged, I see that as being a positive thing.
“If it’s happening, there should be the most severe punishments for whoever is involved in it.”
($1 = 1.3628 Australian dollars)
Reporting by Ian Chadband; Editing by Toby Davis