Hewitt lashes tennis match-fixing claims as ‘absolute farce’
Lleyton Hewitt slammed as “an absolute farce” his name being put on a list of players linked with match-fixing claims after bowing out of his final Australian Open on Thursday.
The dual Grand Slam champion and former world number one reacted with fury after an online blog linked him to match-fixing allegations that have rocked the sport.
Hewitt went down in three torrid sets to Spaniard David Ferrer in a second round match to end his playing career in his 20th and last Australian Open campaign.
The feisty Australian went on the attack during his post-match press conference, calling the claims “absurd” and a “farce.”
“I think it’s a joke to deal with it. Obviously, there’s no possible way. I know my name’s now been thrown into it,” he told reporters.
The BBC and BuzzFeed News said this week that that 16 top players had been suspected of involvement in fixed matches but never faced action.
The Tennis Integrity Unit of the sport’s governing body has denied that there was any coverup over suspicious cases.
Sports blog Show Legend however published the names of 16 players supposedly identified by BuzzFeed, with Hewitt among them.
“I don’t think anyone here would think that I’ve done anything (like) corruption or match-fixing. It’s just absurd,” Hewitt said.
“For anyone that tries to go any further with it, then good luck. Take me on with it.
“Yeah, it’s disappointing. I think throwing my name out there with it makes the whole thing an absolute farce.”
Whilst making the names public Show Legend said they were not saying that any of the players named were guilty of wrongdoing.
The list was accompanied by the following caveat: “Please note that Show Legend only wants to reveal the real names behind the Buzzfeed Ids.
“We do not imply that these players are involved in matchfixing.”
The blog added: “There are some serious doubts about the quality of the methodology which Buzzfeed has used for their analysis.”
World number one Novak Djokovic has also called for those making corruption allegations to provide proof after blasting as “absurd” an Italian newspaper which suggested he could have thrown a match.
“It’s not true,” the 28-year-old Serb told a tense press conference at the Australian Open on Wednesday when asked about the suggestion in Tuttosport newspaper about his 2007 defeat by Frenchman Fabrice Santoro at the Paris Masters.
A host of players have called for any evidence of alleged wrongdoing to be made public.