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Why question me about match-fixing? asks Melzer

AUSTRIAN Juergen Melzer has categorically denied any wrongdoing after tennis authorities began investigating suspicious betting patterns surrounding his first-round win on Tuesday over Wayne Odesnik at Wimbledon.

"Why me?" he responded when asked about the controversy surrounding his opening clash. "I did not buy the match. If there was money on it it's not my problem.

"I was pretty confident of beating him (Odesnik) in three sets anyway. If we play 10 matches on grass I'm going to win eight in three sets," he said on Thursday.

The Austrian won 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 against Odesnik, who has also denied any wrongdoing.

The Tennis Integrity Unit, created by the sport's governing bodies to investigate allegations of match-fixing, was alerted by several betting operators who had noted suspicious activity surrounding Tuesday's match.

Online betting exchange Betfair reported that odds on a three-set victory for the 26th seeded-Melzer against Odesnik had tumbled from their pre-match level of evens to 1-5.

A Betfair spokesman said on Thursday that a total of 679,000 pounds (US$1.10 million) was placed on Melzer to win the match with almost 330,000 pounds laid on a straight sets victory.

Media reports said one high street betting firm withdrew its odds after thousands of pounds in cash were staked at several London shops on a straight sets win for Melzer.

Corruption in tennis came under the spotlight in 2007 when a match in Poland between Nikolay Davydenko and Martin Vasallo Arguello was reported for irregular betting patterns. Both players were cleared of any wrongdoing.

Since then a number of players have been fined and banned for betting on matches they were not involved in dating back several years but no one has been found guilty of match-fixing.


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