Scandal dominating tennis conversation
melbourne, australia» Around the world, players, commentators and fans echoed the call of Roger Federer, who wants to know names of those suspected of match-fixing in a growing scandal that one ex-pro described as a “major wake-up call for the world of tennis.”
Many called for clarity, saying the public and players have a right to know who is suspected of cheating. Others warned that the match-fixing scandal has the potential to damage the reputation of tennis, just as doping or corruption scandals have hurt professional cycling, athletics, baseball and soccer.
Martina Navratilova, the 18-time Grand Slam champion, tweeted: “We need facts, not suppositions.”
The scandal broke Monday when the BBC and BuzzFeed News published reports — timed for the start of the Australian Open — alleging that tennis authorities have ignored widespread evidence of match-fixing involving 16 tennis players who have ranked in the top 50 over the past decade.
BuzzFeed titled its story “The Tennis Racket,” and said that half of those 16, including a Grand Slam winner, were at this year’s Australian Open.
“This really casts a very dark shadow on our sport right now,” Mary Jo Fernandez said on ESPN, as part of a panel discussion Wednesday on the controversy.
“Hopefully because the world is watching, something will be done about it. We need to flag who these players were,” said Fernandez, a three-time Grand Slam finalist, winner of two Grand Slam women’s doubles titles and two Olympic gold medals.
Federer was among the first to demand more information: “I would love to hear names,” the Swiss star said Monday at a postmatch news conference.
His comments have resonated with those who say not knowing leads to dangerous speculation.
“This is turning into a witch hunt,” said Patrick McEnroe, a former French Open doubles champion and captain of the U.S. Davis Cup team who was in Melbourne commentating.
No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic was put on the spot Wednesday at a post-match news conference, where a reporter told him an Italian newspaper had just reported that he “wanted to lose” a match in Paris in 2007.
“You can pick any match that you like that the top player lost, and just create a story out of it,” Djokovic said.
“This is now the main story in tennis, in the sports world, there’s going to be a lot of allegations,” he said, calling it “just speculation” and saying “it is not true.”
As for the action on the court Thursday, No. 10seeded John Isner fired 20 aces and 53 winners in a 6-3, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (2) win over Marcel Granollers.