Novak Djokovic reveals he was offered $200,000 to throw a match
World No.1 Novak Djokovic has revealed he was offered cash to throw a match by a betting syndicate, as a tennis match fixing storm overshadowed the start of the Australian Open in Melbourne.
A investigation by the BBC has claimed that widespread match-fixing has been a problem in the sport over an extended period, with matches at Wimbledon among those believed to have been fixed.
There are suggestions that tennis authorities knew about the problem and opted not to act, yet Djokovic's high profile contribution to the story adds weight to a gathering tide of suspicion.
“I was not approached directly,” said Djokovic after his 6-3 6-2 6-4 win over South Korea's Hyeon Chung in the first round of the Australian 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, the guy that was trying to talk to me, he didn’t even get to me directly. There was nothing out of it.
“Unfortunately there were some, in those times, those days, rumours, some talks, some people were going around. They were dealt with.
"In the last six, seven years, I haven’t heard anything similar. I personally was never approached directly, so I have nothing more to say about that.”
The rumours have sent shock waves through tennis, with the sport keen to avoid having it's name dragged through the mud, as has been the case for football and athletics with ongoing scandals in recent years.
Djokovic insists tennis is a clean sport, but he was keen to stress that it should have no place for cheats.
“I don’t think a shadow is cast over our sport. People are talking about names, guessing who these players are," he added.
"But there’s no real proof or evidence yet of any active players, for that matter. As long as it’s like that, it’s just speculation.
"I’ve heard about the story and I read that there were a couple of players mentioned who are not active anymore, talking about the matches that have happened almost 10 years ago.
"Of course, there is no room for any match-fixing or corruption in our sport. We’re trying to keep it as clean as possible.
"We have, I think, a sport that has evolved, and have upgraded our programs and authorities to deal with these particular cases."
Players ranked outside the top positions in the men's and women's game often struggle to sustain their expensive life on the tennis tour and that may be why some have been temped to by cash that was being offered to them.
The BBC report suggests matches and set scores were agreed in advance, with the accusation that tennis authorities failed to act on tip-offs that match fixing was occurring a damaging accusation.