Tennis stars respond to BBC/Buzzfeed match-fixing report

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Andy Murray of Britain makes a backhand return to Alexander Zverev of Germany during their first round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016.(AP Photo/Andrew Brownbill)
Andy Murray of Britain makes a backhand return to Alexander Zverev of Germany during their first round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016.(AP Photo/Andrew Brownbill)

MELBOURNE, Australia – Play continued on Day Two at the Australian Open, but the biggest story remained the one happening off the courts as players continued to react to the Buzzfeed and BBC investigation into match-fixing in men's tennis. 

The report found that 16 players, some of them currently playing in Australia, have participated in match-fixing. The journalists did not name any of the players. Novak Djokovic noted yesterday that a member of his team was approached and offered $200,000 by an alleged fixer years ago, but his team squashed it before it even reached Djokovic. 

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"For me, that's an act of unsportsmanship, a crime in sport, honestly," Djokovic said Monday. "I don't support it. I think there is no room for it in any sport, especially in tennis." 

Roger Federer said that it will be hard to ever completely eradicate match-fixing. "It doesn't matter how much money you pump into the system, there's always going to be people approaching players, or people, any sport," he said.

Early Tuesday, Thanasi Kokkinakis said that early in his career he was offered to throw games via social media. Milos Raonic and Andy Murray said they have never been approached. 

Murray added that he'd been aware of some of what was included in the report yesterday, but some was news to him. He'd prefer to hear it from tennis officials than from the press. 

"I'm always very curious with that stuff across really all sports, as well," he said. "I think, you know, sports could in general be much, much more transparent."

Asked what he already knew, Murray skirted the question.

"I don't want to go into all of the details, but I was aware of the what happened in the match in Sopot. I knew some of the stuff there. You know, I read yesterday about some of the sort of gambling people in Sicily, which, you know, I wasn't aware of that. I didn't know that so many matches had been flagged up with the betting companies," he said.

Murray said that he has never been approached or enticed to fix a match. He hasn't spoken to many other players about it, but said that he has known about it since he was young. In a sense, he can understand why some players would agree to it.

"I think, you know, when people come with those sums of money, you know, when you're that age, you know, I think sometimes people can make mistakes," he said. The key to cleaning up the game, he said, is in educating young players as soon as they reach the tour, if not earlier.

"I do think it's important that from a younger age players are better educated and are made more aware of what they should do in those situations and how a decision like that can affect your career, can affect the whole sport," he said. He doesn't recall talking to anyone at the ATP about match-fixing during his career, or being offered any warnings or advice.

"I just think that it should be tennis that does a better job of explaining -- they shouldn't have to read it in the press," he said. "I think the more proactive you are with educating young players the better on matters like this." 

Raonic noted that there is a hotline where players can report any situations.

"I think that there is enough -- at least from what I understand and from my personal experiences, there is enough being done regarding it. I don't think anybody in tennis believes and stands for it. If the story has any validity to it, I hope the people that may be -- who weren't named, from what I understand -- may be weeded out," he said.

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