Kokkinakis says he was asked to fix tennis matches

Melbourne, Jan 19 (IANS) Young Australian tennis player Thanasi Kokkinakis on Tuesday said he was offered money via social media to throw a game.

His comments came after world No.1 Novak Djokovic revealed he had knocked back a $200,000 bribe to throw a match nearly a decade ago.

Kokkinakis, who is nursing a shoulder injury that has kept him out of this year’s Australian Open, dismissed the offers from match-fixers as little more than comments from “randoms” on social media.

The 19-year-old added that it was not uncommon for players to be propositioned ahead of big matches.

“I have received offers, not face-to-face, but on social media,” Kokkinakis was quoted as saying by radio station 3AW.

“You read some stuff on your Facebook page, just randoms from nowhere, saying, ‘I’ll pay you this much money to tank the game’, but you try to block it off … get rid of that stuff and focus on what you need to do ahead. You don’t really take it seriously, there’s all these randoms around the place,” he said.

Kokkinakis said he had received more propositions via Facebook than Twitter, but did not know the people making the offers and did not pay any serious attention to them.

The south Australian was not specific about how much money had been tabled in the offers.

“I saw Djokovic, someone offered him $200,000 — mine hasn’t been that much yet,” he said.

However, the tennis young gun said he had been abused by punters online after losing a match.

“It’s interesting … if you lose a match that maybe the betters think you should have won you get abused on social media — it’s a very common thing. Anyone who says they don’t is probably just trying to keep it in. I would assume in other sports it’s a very common thing,” Kokkinakis said.

The first day of the Australian Open on Monday was tainted by reports that the Tennis Integrity Unit had failed to investigate a network of 16 players repeatedly flagged on suspicions of match fixing.

The reports said at least eight of those players would compete in the Australian Open.

Djokovic confirmed he had been approached almost ten years ago to throw a match in Russia.

“I was approached through people that were working with me at that time, that were with my team,” Djokovic said after his opening round win in Melbourne.

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