Venus Williams of the United States makes a backhand return to Johanna Konta of Britain during their first round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016.(AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Andy Murray began his bid for a drought-breaking title at the Australian Open with a 6-1, 6-2, 6-3 win over Alexander Zverev, checked to see there were no urgent calls from home, and walked into the controversy over match-fixing allegations that have overshadowed the opening two days of the tournament.
''I just think that it should be tennis that does a better job of explaining … (players) shouldn't have to read it in the press,'' Murray said Tuesday. ''You have to be proactive I think with things like this and go and speak to the players rather than them reading about it in the newspapers or, you know, listening to it on the TV or the radio.''
The BBC and Buzzfeed News published reports Monday alleging match-fixing had gone unchecked in tennis. The reports alleged 16 players, all ranked in the top 50 at some stage and half of them playing at the Australian Open, had repeatedly raised suspicion because of their results and had been flagged with tennis authorities, but had not been sanctioned. No players were identified.
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The governing bodies for tennis presented a unified front in rejecting the claims, and highlighted the fact five players and an official had received life bans after investigations from the Tennis Integrity Unit which was set up in 2008.
No. 2-ranked Murray, like Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, thought authorities could be doing more to combat the potential problem. Murray also said it was ''a little bit hypocritical'' for tournaments to be sponsored by bookmaking firms – as the Australian Open is – while the authorities are trying to stamp out corruption.
Murray has the reached the final four times in Australia but lost every time, including last year to Djokovic. Murray had Amelie Mauresmo, a new mother, back in his coaching corner this week and was happy not to get any mid-match news from home. He has said he'll leave immediately if his wife, Kim, goes into labor in London with their first child.
''I'm more excited than nervous now,'' Murray, speaking in an on-court interview, told the crowd of the pending arrival. ''I don't have any news because I've just come off the court. I'm hoping my phone hasn't been buzzing in my bag. But Kim will message my team if anything's going on during the matches, and I'll see what happens.''
Seven-time major winner Venus Williams lost the only final she reached at the Australian Open – to her sister back in 2003 – and her 16th trip to Melbourne Park finished in a first-round 6-4, 6-2 loss to Johanna Konta.
The 35-year-old Williams had a career comeback last season, winning three titles, finding some consistency after a long struggle with illness and finishing the year in the top 10 for the first time since 2010.
After losing to the No. 47-ranked Konta, a Sydney-born British player who was making her debut in the main draw at the Australian Open, she's 0-2 in 2016.
It was the eighth time she's lost in the first round of a Grand Slam tournament and the third time in Australia.
Konta was really going for her groundstrokes in a high-risk, high-reward approach that kept Williams, who had wrapping on her left leg, on the defensive.
''When the draw came out and I saw who I was playing I was like `Well, OK, I just hope to stay out there more than an hour,''' Konta said in a post-match TV interview, apparently as surprised as anyone after her straight sets win over the No. 8-seeded Williams.
No. 3 Garbine Muguruza needed exactly an hour to beat Estonian qualifier Anett Kontaveit 6-0, 6-4.
Also advancing on the women's side were No. 9 Karolina Pliskova, No. 11 Timea Bacsinszky, No. 15 and 2015 semifinalist Madison Keys, No. 18 Elina Svitolina, No. 19 Jelena Jankovic, No. 20 Ana Ivanovic and No. 21 Ekaterina Makarova, who beat Venus Williams in the first round here in 2014.
On the men's side, No. 13 Milos Raonic followed up his win over Roger Federer in the final of the Brisbane International tune-up event with a 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 win over Lucas Pouille,
Joining him the second round will be No. 10 John Isner, No. 18 Feliciano Lopez, No. 23 Gael Monfils, No. 30 Jeremy Chardy, No. 31 Steve Johnson and No. 32 Joao Sousa.
Rajeev Ram beat No. 11 Kevin Anderson and Gilles Muller defeated No. 20 Fabio Fognini.
No. 5 Rafael Nadal was playing fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in a rematch of the epic semifinal here in 2009.