Melbourne, Jan 18 (IANS) Tennis World No.1 Novak Djokovic has confirmed that he was once indirectly offered 110,000 pounds to throw a first round match at a tournament in Russia. The Serbian tennis star, however, said match-fixing was not prevalent at the top level of tennis, as allegations of corruption overshadowed the start of the Australian Open. The offer came for him to lose in the St. Petersburg Open, although he never ended up playing in the event.
“I was not approached directly. I was approached through people who were working with me at that time, that were with my team,” Djokovic, who is through to the second round of the ongoing Australian Open, was quoted as saying by Daily Mail on Monday.
“Of course, we threw it away right away. It didn’t even get to me, the guy that was trying to talk to me, he didn’t even get to me directly. There was nothing out of it,” he said. The BBC and BuzzFeed News have obtained ‘secret files’ that reportedly contain evidence of suspected match-fixing in tennis.
Those files indicate that, over the past decade, 16 players who have been ranked in the world’s top 50 have been repeatedly flagged to the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) over suspicions that they have thrown matches. All of the players, including winners of Grand Slam titles, were allowed to continue competing.
“Unfortunately, there were some, in those times, those days, rumours, some talk, some people were going around. They were dealt with. In the last six, seven years, I haven’t heard anything similar,” Djokovic said.
“It made me feel terrible because I don’t want to be anyhow linked to this kind of opportunity. For me, that’s a crime in sport, honestly. I don’t support it. I think there is no room for it in any sport, especially in tennis,” Djokovic said.
Djokovic maintains that most of the allegations belong to the past and do not involve top players. “From my knowledge and information about, you know, the match-fixing or anything similar, there is nothing happening on the top level, as far as I know. Challenger level, those tournaments, maybe, maybe not,” he said.