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Match-fixing allegations overshadow Day 1 at Australian Open

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MELBOURNE, Australia —¬†Novak Djokovic recalled his own brush with match-fixing, as the start of the year’s first Grand Slam tournament was overshadowed by corruption allegations.

Djokovic started his bid for a sixth Australian Open title with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 win over Chung Hyeon of South Korea on Monday, hours after the BBC and Buzzfeed News published reports alleging match-fixing had gone unchecked in tennis.

No players were identified in the reports, which alleged 16 players had been flagged repeatedly with tennis authorities but not sanctioned on suspicion of match fixing. Half of those are entered in the Australian Open, the reports said.

The governing bodies for the sport, and the Tennis Integrity Unit, issued a joint statement, read by ATP chairman Chris Kermode at a hastily-convened news conference at Melbourne Park.

Kermode said tennis authorities “absolutely reject any suggestion that evidence of match-fixing has been suppressed for any reason, or isn’t being investigated.”

[MORE: Federer says it’s time to name players suspected of match-fixing]

Djokovic later responded to a question about an approach ahead of a tournament in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 2007.

“I was approached through people that were working with me at that time, that were with my team,” he said. “Of course, we threw it (the approach) away right away. It didn’t even get to me. The guy that was trying to talk to me, he didn’t even get to me directly. There was nothing out of it.

“Unfortunately there were some, in those times, those days, rumors, some talks, some people were going around. They were dealt with. In the last six, seven years, I haven’t heard anything similar.”

[MORE: Djokovic offers healthy choice entering Australian Open]

Djokovic was an up-and-coming player at the time, not winning the first his 10 major titles until the 2008 Australian Open.

“It made me feel terrible because I don’t want to be anyhow linked to this kind of – you know, somebody may call it an opportunity,” he said. “For me, that’s an act of unsportsmanship, a crime in sport honestly. I think there is no room for it in any sport, especially in tennis.”

Djokovic said he thought the allegations related to matches from almost 10 years ago and didn’t involve active players.

Roger Federer, a 17-time major winner and former leader of the player council, agreed the allegations likely weren’t new but remained “super serious.”

“I would love to hear names,” Federer said. “Then at least it’s concrete stuff and you can actually debate about it. Was it the player? Was it the support team? Who was it? Was it before? Was it a doubles player, a singles player? Which slam?

“It’s super serious and it’s super important to maintain the integrity of our sport. So how high up does it go? The higher it goes, the more surprised I would be, no doubt about it.”

Serena Williams was on court preparing for her opening 6-4, 7-5 win over No. 34-ranked Camila Giorgi when Kermode was holding a news conference to respond to the fixing allegations.

Like Djokovic, Williams won three of the four major titles last season, but hadn’t finished a competitive match for months. She withdrew from the Hopman Cup because of inflammation in her knee, playing just one set in Perth.

“I haven’t played in a long time, but I have been playing for 30 years, so it’s kind of – I try to focus on that,” Williams said. “I was able to stay in it and stay calm today and I think that’s what matters most.”

The 21-time major winner said there was no hint of match-fixing on the women’s tour.

“I play very hard, and every player I play seems to play hard,” she said. “As an athlete, I do everything I can to be not only great, but, you know, historic.”

[MORE: Women’s elite stars shaking off injuries, colds at Australian Open]

Maria Sharapova, who lost to Williams in the final here last year and could meet her again in the quarterfinals, showed no signs of a left forearm injury that curtailed her preparations when she beat Nao Hibino 6-1, 6-3 in a night match. Genie Bouchard advanced with a 6-3, 6-4 win against Alexandra Krunic.

Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova beat Thai qualifier Luksika Kumkhum, avenging her upset loss in the first round here in 2014, and No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska beat Christina McHale 6-2, 6-3. Also advancing were No. 10 Carla Suarez Navarro, No. 12 Belinda Bencic, No. 13. Robert Vinci and No. 23 Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Former No.1-ranked Caroline Wozniacki lost 1-6, 7-6 (3), 6-4 to Yulia Putintseva, continuing a downward spiral at Melbourne Park that has resulted in her exiting one round earlier each year since she reached the 2011 semifinals.

No. 24 Sloane Stephens, a semifinalist in 2013, lost 6-3, 6-3 to Chinese qualifier Wang Qiang.

Nadal wins his 200th career Grand Slam match

PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 26:  Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates victory during the Men's Singles second round match against Facundo Bagnis of Argentina on day five of the 2016 French Open at Roland Garros on May 26, 2016 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images)
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PARIS (AP) The Latest on the French Open (all times local):

4:05 p.m.

Novak Djokovic is now the seventh man with at least 50 match wins in the French Open.

Next on his agenda: joining the other six on that list with a title at Roland Garros.

Trying to complete a career Grand Slam, the top-seeded Djokovic moved into the third round by beating 161st-ranked qualifier Steve Darcis of Belgium 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 on Thursday, overcoming 42 unforced errors on a windy afternoon.

That improved Djokovic’s career record in the clay-court tournament to 50-11. He’s made it to the final three times in the past four years but lost each time.

The other men with 50 victories at the French Open – Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Guillermo Vilas, Ivan Lendl, Andre Agassi and Nicola Pietrangeli – all won the championship at some point.

3:10 p.m.

Eugenie Bouchard attributes her early exit from the French Open more to her mind than her tennis.

After her 6-4, 6-4 second-round loss to Timea Bacsinszky, the 2014 Wimbledon finalist says “tennis is 90 percent mental” and that “the brain is like a muscle” that needs workouts.

The 47th-ranked Canadian says her mentality used to be “my amazing strength” and that “I feel like I’ve not used that as much in the past year or so,” during which the 22-year-old Canadian’s ranking has slipped.

2:50 p.m.

Once Rafael Nadal got past the briefest of slow starts, he was just fine, easily collecting the 200th Grand Slam match victory of his career.

Nadal fell behind 2-0 against 99th-ranked Facundo Bagnis of Argentina, then cleaned up his act and took 14 of the next 15 games Thursday en route to winning 6-3, 6-0, 6-3 in the second round of the French Open.

Nadal has won 200 of 230 matches in majors, a winning percentage of .870. Only seven other men have earned that many victories at Grand Slam tournaments; Roger Federer holds the record of 302.

The fourth-seeded Nadal owns 14 Grand Slam titles – tied with Pete Sampras for second-most behind Federer’s 17 – including a record nine at Roland Garros.

2:10 p.m.

Ana Ivanovic has reached the third round of the French Open for the 10th time, beating Kurumi Nara 7-5, 6-1.

Ivanovic, who won the title at Roland Garros in 2008, is seeded No. 14 this year.

Also, 28th-seeded Andrea Petkovic was eliminated, losing to Yulia Putintseva 6-2, 6-2.

1:50 p.m.

Malek Jaziri has failed in his bid to become the first Tunisian man in 53 years to reach the third round of the French Open.

Jaziri lost to seventh-seeded Tomas Berdych 6-1, 2-6, 6-2, 6-4.

Berdych, the 2010 Wimbledon finalist and French Open semifinalist, says he was “really pushed and I was able to come back and win.”

The last Tunisian to reach the third round at Roland Garros was Mustafa Belkhodjia in 1963.

1:20 p.m.

With a victory over Marcos Baghdatis in the second round French Open, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga would become only the third Frenchman with 100 wins in Grand Slam tournaments.

The others were Jean Borotra, with 103, and Henri Cochet, with 102.

Footage from The Associated Press archives – dated exactly 84 years ago – of Borotra playing Fred Perry shows how dramatically tennis has changed.

12:50 p.m.

Eighth-seeded Timea Bacsinszky, a French Open semifinalist last year, advanced to the third round at Roland Garros by beating Eugenie Bouchard 6-4, 6-4.

Bacsinszky was broken in her first service game, but the 2014 Wimbledon finalist couldn’t hold the lead. The Swiss broke back in the seventh game, broke Bouchard again with a backhand winner for a 5-4 lead, and served out the first set.

Trailing 5-0 in the second set and with Bacsinszky serving for the win, Bouchard got back into the match, saving a match point and earning two break points that would have leveled the score at 5-5 but she failed to convert.

After making the semifinals at Roland Garros in 2014, Bouchard lost in the first round last year. From a career-high year-end ranking of seventh, the 22-year-old Canadian slipped out of the top 40 in 2015 and struggled with an eating disorder she says she has since conquered.

11:35 a.m.

Rafael Nadal can win his 200th Grand Slam match on Thursday if he beats Facundo Bagnis of Argentina in the second round of the French Open.

Nadal, a record nine-time champion at Roland Garros, would become the eighth man in history to win 200 matches at major tournaments. The man with the most wins is Roger Federer, who has 302 over his career but is missing from this year’s French Open because of injury.

Novak Djokovic, the current top-ranked player, can win his 50th match at Roland Garros by defeating qualifier Steve Darcis of Belgium. But the milestone that really matters to Djokovic is winning his first French Open, the only Grand Slam he hasn’t won .

Murray rallies into 3rd round at French Open

PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 25:  Andy Murray of Great Britain plays a forehand during the Men's Singles second round match against Mathias Bourgue of France on day four of the 2016 French Open at Roland Garros on May 25, 2016 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
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PARIS (AP) The Latest on the French Open (all times local):

5:45 p.m.

Andy Murray rallied past French wild-card entry Mathias Bourgue to reach the third round of the French Open, winning 6-2, 2-6, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.

The second-seeded Murray made the most of Bourgue’s drop of energy to claw his way back into the match and set up a contest with big-serving Ivo Karlovic in the next round.

After playing superb tennis to lead 2-1 in sets on Court Philippe Chatrier, the 22-year-old Bourgue ran out of gas while Murray limited his mistakes to 10 unforced errors in the last two sets.

4:40 p.m.

Andy Murray needs to win a second consecutive five-set match to continue his run at the French Open.

The second-seeded Briton is trailing 2-1 in sets against French wild-card entry Mathias Bourgue, who is showing his vast array of shots on Court Philippe Chatrier with some superb drop shots and volleys.

The 22-year-old Bourgue is making his Grand Slam debut at Roland Garros.

Murray advanced to the second round after rallying from two sets down against qualifier Radek Stepanek.

4:20 p.m.

When it comes to hitting aces, big-serving Ivo Karlovic has no rival.

At 37, the lanky Croatian player proved it again to drag himself out of a tough battle with Jordan Thompson and become the oldest male player to reach the third round at a Grand Slam since Jimmy Connors at the 1991 U.S. Open. Connors was 39 when he progressed to the semifinals at Flushing Meadows that year.

The 27th-seeded Karlovic produced 41 aces in his 6-7 (2), 6-3, 7-6 (3), 6-7 (4), 12-10 win over the Australian wild-card entry, including three in the final game.

3:10 p.m.

There still were some hiccups for Stan Wawrinka in the second round of the French Open. All in all, though, things went a lot more smoothly than in his opening match.

After needing to come back and win in five sets to barely avoid becoming the first defending champion in tournament history to lose in the first round, Wawrinka moved into the third with a 7-6 (7), 6-3, 6-4 victory over 93rd-ranked Taro Daniel of Japan on Wednesday.

In the tiebreaker, the third-seeded Wawrinka found himself facing two set points while trailing 6-4. But he erased both of those and eventually pulled out the set, then quickly went up a break in the second and was on his way.

Wawrinka said his play against Daniel had “many ups and downs,” but that he’s “ready to step it up.”

Wawrinka compiled a 62-21 advantage in winners and will now face No. 30 Jeremy Chardy of France for a spot in the round of 16.

2:45 p.m.

Teenager Alexander Zverev has completed his first career win in the main draw of the French Open.

The 19-year-old German, who is regarded as one of the most talented youngsters on the circuit, advanced to the second round of the clay-court Grand Slam with a 5-7, 6-2, 7-6 (6), 7-5 win over Pierre-Hugues Herbert. Their match was suspended at the start of the fourth set on Tuesday because of darkness.

The 41st-ranked Zverev is playing for the second time at the Roland Garros after losing in the qualifying stages last year. He will be up against another Frenchman, Stephane Robert, in the second round.

2:00 p.m.

Fourth-seeded Garbine Muguruza is through to the third round of the French Open, beating wild-card entry Myrtille Georges 6-2, 6-0.

A two-time quarterfinalist in Paris, the 2015 finalist at Wimbledon says “I really want to win here.”

1:30 p.m.

Fifth-seeded Kei Nishikori advanced to the second round at the French Open by beating Andrey Kuznetsov 6-3, 6-3, 6-3.

Nishikori, a U.S. Open finalist in 2014, reached the quarterfinals in Paris last year.

There was also a second-round win for a Japanese player in the women’s draw, with Naomi Osaka beating Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 6-3, 6-3.

12:45 p.m.

Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, 2009 French Open winner Svetlana Kuznetsova and 2014 finalist Simona Halep have all advanced to the third round at Roland Garros.

The 10th-seeded Kvitova beat Hsieh Su-Wei 6-4, 6-1. Kvitova, who reached the semifinals at Roland Garros in 2012, looked more comfortable than in her first-round match.

Kvitova says “I’m feeling good. I’m healthy, and that’s important.”

The sixth-seeded Halep had to rally from 4-1 down in the first set to beat Zarina Diyas 7-6 (5), 6-2, while Kuznetsova defeated Heather Watson 6-1, 6-3.

12:30 p.m.

Tightened security measures at the French Open, with multiple pat-downs and bag checks, are making getting into Roland Garros a bit of a chore.

There were long lines on Wednesday morning as spectators waited – mostly patiently – to be cleared for entry into the smallest of the four Grand Slam tournaments.

Extra precautions introduced following deadly attacks in Paris in November include an initial pat-down, bag check and scan with a metal detector before reaching Roland Garros, followed by another more thorough search at the gates.

Security has also been stepped up for soccer’s European Championship in 10 French cities starting next month.

12:00 p.m.

The French Open is finally basking under blue skies after three opening days of damp, cold weather.

Those already out on court Wednesday include fifth-seeded Kei Nishikori, former French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova and 2014 finalist Simona Halep.

Halep is on Court Philippe Chatrier against Zarina Diyas. On Court 2, Kuznetsova is facing Heather Watson, while Nishikori is playing Andrey Kuznetsov Court 1.