World number one Novak Djokovic has denied an Italian media report he deliberately lost a 2007 match that has been linked to a wider scandal involving alleged corruption in tennis.
The 28-year-old world number one, who easily beat French teenager Quentin Halys on Wednesday to advance to the Australian Open third round, was asked about a report in Italian newspaper Tuttosport that he had deliberately lost to now-retired French player Fabrice Santoro at the Paris Masters in 2007.
“It’s not true,” the Serb said with a shrug and shake of his head. “What it is to say? I’ve lost that match.
“Anybody can 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.”
“You can pick any match that you like that the top player lost and just create a story out of it.”
The opening days of the Australian Open have been overshadowed by revelations in a report by the BBC and online BuzzFeed News that 16 players who have been ranked in the top 50 had been repeatedly flagged to the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) over suspicions they had thrown matches in the past decade.
Tennis authorities on Monday issued a joint statement rejecting the allegations.
Australian Open champion Djokovic was asked about the media reports on Monday, saying that he had indirectly been offered $200,000 to throw a match while still a teenager.
The offer was immediately rejected by the person it had been made to, he said.
Djokovic added on Wednesday that he had said all he wanted to about the corruption allegations and refused to discuss it any further, except to say that he was disappointed the sport was faced with questions about integrity.
“You don’t want these kind of subjects or speculations going around,” he said.