Federer speaks out about match-fixing

Roger Federer called out players who engage in match fixing, saying they harm the integrity of the game.

Federer, who swept into the fourth round of the Australian Open with a straight-sets win over Xavier Malisse, learned in his post-match news conference Friday that the Tennis Integrity Unit is investigating a possible fixing case after a match last year between Teymuraz Gabashvili of Russia and Filippo Volandri of Italy in St. Petersburg, Russia was deemed suspicious.

"I do not know whether to get more angry or more disappointed," said Federer, whose influence in the game extends far beyond the court. The Swiss is president of the ATP Players Council.

"I think it’s just unacceptable when athletes or players try to do things like this or play with the integrity of the sport. It is a just a pity to a game that has given us everything. Why would you want to play with that? You’re not only taking a chance for yourself but for so many others to harm the sport. That’s why it’s disappointing to hear those sort of things."

Federer was asked for his reaction by Italian journalist Ubaldo Scanagatta, who had listed the story on his website earlier in the day. There has been no comment from the Tennis Integrity Unit, which was set up a few years ago to investigate betting in the game. The International Tennis Federation is waiting for the unit’s final report before deciding whether to launch a full inquiry.

Several Italian players were fined and suspended a few years ago for placing small bets amongst themselves, but the real threat usually seems to emanate from big betting syndicates in Russia. The most notorious case involved the Russian player Nikolay Davydenko when he defaulted midway through a match in Poland. Huge sums of money were placed on his opponent during the match. The ATP eventually was forced to drop the case against Davydenko through lack of evidence.