Young tennis players need to be educated about the implications of match-fixing and the sport needs to be more proactive in talking about the issue, world number two Andy Murray said on Tuesday.
The start of the Australian Open has been overshadowed by a report accusing tennis authorities of failing to take action against players repeatedly flagged up to the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) over suspicions of matches being thrown.
Speaking after he eased into the second round at Melbourne Park, Murray said Novak Djokovic’s revelation that he had been offered $200,000 to throw a match in the early years of his career highlighted the temptation facing young players.
“I think when people come with those sums of money when you’re that age I think sometimes people can make mistakes,” the Briton told reporters.
“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.
“I think across all sports, I don’t think that that’s done particularly well. You know, I think you should be learning about those things from 15, 16, 17 years old and being warned about it.”
Australian teenager Thanasi Kokkinakis told local radio in Melbourne on Tuesday that he had been approached on social media about throwing matches.
“You read some stuff on your Facebook page, just these randoms from nowhere saying, ‘I’ll pay you this much to tank the game’,” the 19-year-old told 3AW Radio.
“You don’t really take it seriously.”
Tennis authorities on Monday rejected suggestions they had suppressed match-fixing cases and backing the TIU’s ability to fight corruption in the sport.
The profile given to match-fixing by the report’s release on the opening morning of the year’s first grand slam is nevertheless likely to see corruption tackled with more vigour, perhaps with a funding boost to allow the TIU to expand beyond its current six staff.
Murray, who said he had never been approached, was of the view it would have been better if the first the players had heard of the matter had not been through the media.
“You have to go and speak to the players rather than them reading about it in the newspapers or listening to it on the TV or the radio,” he said. “I think the more proactive you are with educating young players the better…”
World number 14 Milos Raonic bemoaned the fact the report was overshadowing the Australian Open and said he too had never been approached, on social media or otherwise, to fix a match.
“The closest I have ever come to is people sort of cussing off at me for losing matches when they lose money,” the Canadian said.