Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Sports

Anticorruption unit to be reviewed

MELBOURNE, Australia — Tennis' governing bodies announced Wednesday they will commission an independent review of their anticorruption Tennis Integrity Unit to restore "public confidence in our sport" following media reports that possible evidence of match-fixing was not properly investigated.

The BBC and BuzzFeed News published reports last week saying tennis authorities failed to thoroughly investigate evidence of match-fixing involving a core group of 16 players who have ranked in the top 50 over the past decade. No players were named.

ATP chairman Chris Kermode said at the Australian Open that the reports contained "very, very serious allegations" that have "caused damage to the sport, which is why we've acted so quickly and made decisions."

The leaders of tennis' multiple governing bodies — often at cross purposes through the years — have been meeting at Melbourne Park, site of the Australian Open, the sport's first Grand Slam of the year and an event that has been overshadowed by the match-fixing reports.

Tennis officials have emphasized that there have been no coverups and that suspicious betting patterns were not sufficient proof on their own of match-fixing.

The New York Times reported Sunday that a mixed doubles match at the tournament raised suspicions of match-fixing when a major sports gambling website suspended betting on the match because of atypically high betting volume and unusual patterns.

Integrity Unit officials have interviewed the players involved.

One proposal expected to be enacted is the use of an external auditor to examine the Integrity Unit and the sport's anticorruption efforts. More resources are also expected to be allocated.

Djokovic sets up semifinal with Federer

Novak Djokovic has a larger than life presence at the Australian Open.

His face smiles at fans from sponsors' billboards. His voice gives inspirational advice over center-court speakers between matches.

There's even a "Novak's World," where fans can slip on virtual reality goggles and feel as if they're walking in Djokovic's shoes as he stretches in the locker room and then walks out onto the court as the crowd roars.

A few years ago, the Australian Open and the other majors could have been called "Roger's World," when Roger Federer was No. 1, still dominating and still the favorite face of sponsors.

Thursday, the two players' worlds collide again.

The top-ranked Djokovic will play No. 3 Federer in a blockbuster semifinal at the Australian Open. It will be the 45th installment in a riveting rivalry that is so equally split that they are tied with 22 wins each.

It will be their 15th matchup at a Grand Slam tournament, more than any other pair of men in tennis' Open era, which dates to 1968.

"It does feel good, I must say, to level the head-to-head," Djokovic said after his 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 quarterfinal win over No. 7 Kei Nishikori on Tuesday. He once trailed Federer by a wide margin.

"I did go through my moments, periods of my career, where I was doubting myself, not knowing really if I can manage to get to No. 1 and achieve the childhood dream. … Under those circumstances and challenges when I was down, I had an opportunity to grow and to get better."

Federer, 34, has used Djokovic, 28, for fuel as well.

"It's part of the reason why I guess I'm still playing," Federer, seeking his 18th major title, said after beating Tomas Berdych 7-6 (7-4), 6-2, 6-4, in the quarterfinals Tuesday. "I feel like I'm competitive at the top. I can beat all the guys on tour. … I'm playing good tennis, fun tennis for me, anyway."

Kerber, konta set women's semis: Angelique Kerber won five consecutive games in the second set and saved five set points to beat two-time champion Victoria Azarenka 6-3, 7-5 in the quarterfinals today. The seventh seed will play 47th-ranked Johanna Konta, who beat Chinese qualifier Zhang Shuai 6-4, 6-1 to become the first British woman to advance to the last four of a Grand Slam event since 1984. In the other semifinal Thursday, Serena Williams will face Agnieszka Radwanska.

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