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India guarded on Bhupathi match-fix claims

sports Updated: Jan 22, 2008 12:50 IST

AFP
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Indian tennis officials on Tuesday distanced themselves from claims made by doubles specialist Mahesh Bhupathi that he was asked to throw a Davis Cup match in 1996.

All-India Tennis Association secretary Anil Khanna said it was the first he had heard of Bhupathi's allegations and that believed the Davis Cup had always been fair.

"To my knowledge, there has never been any fixing in Davis Cup," Khanna said. "It is a prestigious event and players strive to do the best for their country."

Bhupathi, the winner of 10 Grand Slam titles in men's and mixed doubles, was reported as saying he had been asked to throw a Davis Cup match earlier in his career.

"I have not been approached in the context of an ATP tournament," the 33-year-old was quoted as saying on Monday.

"I was approached maybe 10, 12 years ago, in the context of Davis Cup in India.

"I immediately changed my phone numbers and I never got that call again. It definitely freaked me out."

Bhupathi declined to comment further, but Indian media reported on Tuesday that the Davis Cup tie in question was the World Group first round clash against the Netherlands in Jaipur in February, 1996.

India won the tie 3-2 to advance to the quarter-finals with Bhupathi playing a key role by winning both his singles matches against the higher-ranked Jan Siemerink and Jacco Eltingh.

Bhupathi said recent allegations of match-fixing such as those against Nikolay Davydenko of Russia were tarnishing the sport's reputation.

"It's sad, terrible for the sport," he was quoted as saying in Melbourne.

"I wish the ATP could find as many ways as they can to control it. There is so much money at stake and so many different avenues the players can use.

"So I am glad that they are punishing players now, so guys will at least get a little more weary. Tennis is a great sport, we must find ways to protect it."