Novak Djokovic denies 'absurd' match-fixing allegation

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic was ranked third in the world when he lost to Fabrice Santoro in the Paris Masters

Novak Djokovic has denied "absurd" allegations in an Italian newspaper that he "wanted to lose" a match at the Paris Masters in 2007.

The Serb, then world number three, was beaten 6-3 6-2 by Frenchman Fabrice Santoro, ranked 36 places below him.

Djokovic, 28, says the match has only been re-examined following a corruption investigation by the media.

"You can pick any match that you like that the top player lost and just create a story out of it," he said.

"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."

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A joint BBC/Buzzfeed investigation alleged that the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU), the organisation responsible for policing the sport, failed to act on suspicions that 16 top-50 ranked players have been involved in match-fixing.

Djokovic, the world number one, has previously claimed he was offered £110,000 to lose a first-round match at the St Petersburg Open in 2007.

When asked about the claims about the Santoro match in Tuttosport after his Australian Open second-round victory over French qualifier Quentin Halys, 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."

Tennis match-fixing: Djokovic, Federer & others give their views on allegations

Meanwhile, a former senior police officer has claimed tennis authorities failed to act on "extremely damaging evidence" he provided about a player linked to Sicilian gamblers thought to be fixing matches at Wimbledon.

Albert Kirby, a former detective who had previously been in charge of the James Bulger murder investigation, prepared a secret report for the ATP in 2008 as part of an inquiry into suspected match fixing.

The ATP report into a suspicious match between the Russian Nikolay Davydenko and Martin Vassallo Arguello of Argentina cleared both players of breaking any rules.

However, Kirby said he obtained phone evidence from Arguello which he claims showed he had links to four suspected Italian fixers.

"That information showed conclusively of his direct contact with the Italian gamblers. There was really a prima facie case to go for him," he told the BBC.

Arguello has not responded to questions about his connections to the Italian gamblers. The ATP has categorically denied suppressing the evidence uncovered by investigators and said the information was not strong enough to merit any further enquiries.

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