Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Sports

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MELBOURNE, Australia — Andy Murray finds it "hypocritical" that tennis authorities are trying to stamp out match-fixing run by gambling syndicates but have partnered with a major gambling company that is advertising on the Australian Open's show courts.

The two issues have collided at this year's Australian Open, where tennis was overshadowed for a second day Tuesday by allegations that match-fixing has gone unchecked.

The controversy ignited Monday when the BBC and Buzzfeed News published reports alleging that the sport's highest authorities have ignored evidence of match-fixing involving 16 players who have been ranked in the top 50 over the past decade. The report said half those players were at this year's Australian Open but did not name them.

The governing bodies for tennis have presented a unified front in rejecting the claims.

No. 2-ranked Murray said the sport was sending mixed messages by allowing betting company William Hill to become one of the Australian Open's sponsor's this year and advertise on the tournament's three main show courts.

"I'm not really pro that," Murray said after advancing to the second round. "I think it's a little bit hypocritical. … I don't believe the players are allowed to be sponsored by betting companies, but the tournaments are."

Serena wins again

Defending champion and top seed Serena Williams had no problem advancing to the third round, beating unseeded Su-Wei Hsieh 6-1, 6-2. She joined fifth seed Maria Sharapova, beat unseeded Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-2, 6-1.

Second seed Simona Halep paid the price for a recent Achilles injury, losing to qualifier Zhang Shuai 6-4, 6-3 as the 133rd-ranked player won her first match at a major after 15 attempts over seven years.

On the men's side, seventh seed Kei Nishikori reached the third round for the sixth straight year, beating American Austin Krajicek 6-3, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3.

Venus Williams was fined $5,000 by tournament organizers for skipping a news conference after her first-round exit, a 6-4, 6-3 loss to Johanna Konta, a British player making her debut in the main draw. The fine is the highest a female player has faced for skipping a mandatory news conference and the second highest since Marat Safin was fined $10,000 at the 2001 French Open.

Rafa gone in Round 1

Rafael Nadal lost in the first round of a major for only the second time in his career, beaten in five sets by Fernando Verdasco 7-6 (8-6), 4-6, 3-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2. His only other first-round exit in a Grand Slam was at Wimbledon in 2013 when he lost in straight sets to No. 135-ranked Steve Darcis.

"It's a hard and painful loss," Nadal, seeded fifth, said. "(Verdasco) took more risks than me, and he won. Probably he deserved (it)."

     
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