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World No.1 Novak Djokovic has dismissed as “absurd” Italian media reports alleging he deliberately threw a match as a 19-year-old in 2007.
Following yet another straight sets win at the Australian Open on Wednesday night, Djokovic was bombarded with questions about the match he lost when he was world No.4 to the now retired Fabrice Santoro at the Paris Masters nine years ago.
Djokovic admitted at the time that he was struggling to perform at his best during the match in question because of dental surgery he had prior the Paris Masters to remove two wisdom teeth.
He wasn’t impressed with the line of questioning, but when pressed on the allegations in Italian newspaper Tuttosport, the Serbian denied he intentionally threw the match.
“It’s not true,” Djokovic said.
“What it is to say? I’ve lost that match. I don’t know if you’re trying to 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. Anybody can create a story about any match. That’s my point.
“There hasn’t been too many matches where top players lost in last decade or so in early rounds. You can pick any match that you like that the top player lost and just create a story out of it. I think it’s not supported by any kind of proof, any evidence, any facts. It’s just speculation. So I don’t think there is a story about it.”
The opening grand slam of the season has been thrown into turmoil following reports from the BBC and Buzzfeed suggesting 16 top 50 players had been flagged to the Tennis Integrity Unit over match-fixing suspicions.
According to the report, authorities have been repeatedly warned about a core group of 16 players, all of whom have been ranked in the top 50.
Djokovic himself admitted he was the subject of a non-direct proposition to throw a match in St Petersburg in 2006 for $200,000.
But the five-time Australian Open champion said all he wanted to say about the match-fixing scandal in the sport after the first round on Monday, when he said there was “nothing happening at the top level, as far as I know”.
“My response is that there’s always going to be, especially these days when there is a lot of speculations, this is now the main story in tennis, in sports world, there’s going to be a lot of allegations,” Djokovic said on Wednesday night.
“I have nothing more to say. I said everything I needed to say two days ago. You know, until somebody comes out with the real proof and evidence, it’s only a speculation for me … You don’t want these kind of subjects or speculations going around. I think that certain media is just trying to create a story out of it without any proofs. So as long as it’s like that, it’s just a story. That’s all.”
But, later in the media conference on Wednesday night, Djokovic commented generally when asked whether it was sad to see his sport surrounded with such allegations.
“You don’t want these kind of subjects or speculations going around,” he said.
“I think that certain media are just trying to create a story out of it without any proof.So as long as it is like that, it is just a story. That’s all.”