Novak Djokovic has revealed that he was indirectly offered £100,000 to throw a first round tournament match after being quizzed by the media over the allegations that tennis is rife with match-fixing.
An investigation by the BBC and Buzzfeed has led to a report that claims a core group of 16 player have been guilty of match-fixing over the past decade, yet the ATP has failed to take action against them despite being informed of the corruption as early as 2007.
Speaking after his Australian Open first round victory over Hyeon Chung, Djokovic revealed that the approach came ahead of the St Petersburg Open, and while he did not confirm which year it was, he did add that it came at least seven years ago.
“I was not approached directly. I was approached through people that were working with me at that time, that were with my team,” Djokovic said.
“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 talk, some people were going around. They were dealt with. In the last six, seven years, I haven't heard anything similar.
“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.
“I always have been taught and have been surrounded with people that had nurtured and respected the sport's values. That's the way I've grown up. Fortunately for me, I didn't need to get directly involved in these particular situations.”
Given that the 28-year-old Serbian is the world No 1 and favourite for the Australian Open, Djokovic’s revelations will reverberate through the sporting world, and officials at the ATP and Tennis Integrity Unit may wish to speak to Djokovic regarding the approach.
However, he was keen to stress that he believes any problems tennis has is now consigned to history, and played down the report from the BBC and Buzzfeed despite it claiming that half of the 16 players suspected of match-fixing were in the first round in Melbourne.
“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.
“But I'm not entitled to really talk about it. I can give my opinion. But there is an organization, authorities, people who take care of that on a daily basis and make sure to track it down.
“It's always a choice for a tennis player, an athlete or any person in life. You always have a choice, especially for somebody who is on the tennis court, whether or not you're going to accept something that is going against everything that the sport stands for.
“I would always make the right choice. But I can only speak on my own behalf.”
Djokovic came through his first round encounter unscathed after recording a comfortable 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 victory over the South Korean Chung.Reuse content