Agassi says match-fixing wasn’t on his radar when he played

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(AP) — Andre Agassi says match-fixing in tennis “never even made my radar” while he was on tour.

The eight-time Grand Slam title winner, who retired from the sport in 2006, said in a phone interview with The Associated Press that he never had any brush with the sort of corruption that was alleged in recent media reports and has been the main topic of conversation at the Australian Open.

Agassi also said he hopes – and believes – that tennis’s leaders will make sure match-fixing is not happening nowadays.

“I worry about that being a problem in any sport, because I think it poses an existential threat to the very fabric of what sports is about,” Agassi said. “I think every sport needs to take that incredibly seriously.”

The BBC and BuzzFeed News published reports this week saying tennis authorities failed to thoroughly investigate evidence of match-fixing involving more than a dozen players who have ranked in the top 50 over the past decade. No players were named in the reports.

“In 21 years I played professionally, I can say, either based on my naivete or my focus on trying to be the best in the world, that it never made my radar at any stage in those 21 years,” Agassi said. “So I don’t know if I was unreachable, untouchable or just purely in my own world, but it never even made my radar, whatsoever.”

In Australia, where the year’s first major tournament began Monday, representatives of tennis’s governing bodies held a news conference to deny that any evidence connected to match-fixing was suppressed. During the Australian Open’s early rounds, player after player has left the court and headed to a news conference where the main line of questioning centers around corruption in their sport.

Roger Federer, owner of a record 17 major titles, called the reports “pure speculation,” pointing out the lack of details, including the names of any players purported to be involved.

Current men’s No. 1 Novak Djokovic retold the story of an episode in Russia in the mid-2000s, saying members of his entourage were approached about having him intentionally lose a match.

“Of course, we (rejected) it right away. It didn’t even get to me,” Djokovic said.

Agassi thinks the ATP, WTA and International Tennis Federation should look into the broader issue.

“I do believe and assume that the organizing bodies of any sport would treat this (subject) with the seriousness that it deserves, to protect the integrity of the game and also the fans of the sport,” Agassi said. “It needs to be treated that way. And it sounds, based on the reports and the conversations about it, that it will be addressed as such.”

Giron cruises in 3rd set, beats Rybakov at Dallas Open

2023 Australian Open - Day 1
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DALLAS – Marcos Giron advanced to the second round of the Dallas Open with a 6-4, 6-7 (1), 6-1 victory over Alex Rybakov on Tuesday.

The seventh-seeded Giron, who reached the semifinals of the inaugural event a year ago, responded quickly after failing to close out the second set, winning the first five games of the deciding set.

Rybakov broke his fellow American when Giron was serving for the match in the second set. Then Rybakov won the first six points of the second-set tiebreaker.

“I’m really happy with how I was able to reset in the third and just get back to the game plan from the beginning and elevate,” Giron said. “He played well and served well and kind of hung in there.”

Eighth-seeded Adrian Mannarino of France won the final five points of a first-set tiebreaker and the last four games of the second to beat American Steve Johnson 7-6 (6), 6-2.

J.J. Wolf, the No. 6 seed, had little trouble in a 6-3, 6-3 victory over fellow American Brandon Holt.

John Isner, the fifth seed and unofficial tournament host in his hometown event, played later Tuesday. Like Giron, Isner lost in the semifinals last year.

Sock wins at Dallas Open, set to face top-seeded Fritz

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DALLAS – Wild-card entry Jack Sock opened with a 7-6 (2), 4-6, 6-4 victory over Ilya Ivashka at the Dallas Open, setting up a second-round meeting with top-seeded fellow American Taylor Fritz.

Sock broke Ivashka’s serve in the final game to win the match. Ivashka fell behind 2-0 to start the final set but broke Sock to get back on serve.

Down a break early in the second set, Ivashka rallied to force the deciding set after Sock cruised in the first-set tiebreaker.

The eighth-ranked Fritz is back for the second Dallas Open after losing in the semifinals as the top seed in the inaugural edition of the indoor hard-court event last year. Defending champion Reilly Opelka isn’t in the field.