Kolkata: Jaidip Mukerjea and Akhtar Ali are not about to agree that top players are involved in match-fixing, but the two Davis Cuppers have heard or seen enough to smell a rat or two in tennis.
"I've heard of Futures matches being lost on purpose, but since I haven't seen one such match myself, I'll reserve my comments on that," Jaidip told mid-day in the wake of reports of widespread corruption in the sport. "But, then, why would top players risk so much for money when they make so much of it anyway?" added the former Davis Cup captain.
Akhtar echoed similar thoughts. "They earn so much," he pointed out. "I have been going to Wimbledon for 40 years, five years as a player, but I've never seen or heard anything that would suggest such wrong-doing," the 76-year-old reminded, but is quick to draw attention towards the menace of "tanking matches".
"Most tournaments offer appearance money to top players and, often, some of them lose their matches deliberately. Sometimes, they hide injuries and and are not good enough to win first-round matches. These players appear only to collect their hefty guarantee fees," Akhtar said.
"This has happened even at the Chennai Open," he added even as he refused to believe there is "tanking" in tennis at the behest of bookmakers. "Sometimes, it's as simple as a higher-ranked player not being good enough on a particular surface," he reminded.
Jaidip, who spoke about his "shock on hearing the reports", feels they are ill-times. "The first Grand Slam of the season has just begun and this will distract the players focus," the 73-year-old reminded. "There should be a thorough investigation and if anything emerges, some exemplary punishments like life bans, should be used to nip the menace in the bud."
Former India Davis Cupper Gaurav Natekar felt that the report first needs to be verified and if true, then the ITF and ATP must take serious steps to stem the rot of fixing. "The authenticity of the report should be verified and (if true) the ATP and ITF must not made the mistake that other global sports bodies by not taking it seriously. It's a matter of grave concern that Novak Djokovic has been approached. This must be nipped in the bud before it spreads like a virus and becomes a cancer to the sport. Having said that, there should be a clear distinction between betting and match fixing. How much of this is betting and how much is fixing must be clearly classified," said the Pune-based 1994 Asian Games double gold medalist.'
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