LONDON: The only way to ensure tennis never becomes a victim of match-fixing is to hand out lengthy bans to anyone caught up in it, Roger Federer said on Wednesday.
British media reported that tennis authorities were investigating suspicious betting patterns in Juergen Melzer's first-round victory over Wayne Odesnik at Wimbledon on Tuesday after some bookmakers suspended their markets.
"It has no place in tennis those kind of things," world No 2 Federer told reporters after his second-round win over Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez on Wednesday.
"But it's hard to control. I'm sure the (tennis governing bodies) ATP and the ITF, we're trying our best to catch those guys if there are any out there.
"I think we should have massive bans on those who get caught so they get really scared of doing it," he added.
Roger Federer of Switzerland returns the ball to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain during their match at the Wimbledon tennis championships, in London June 24, 2009.
The Tennis Integrity Unit, set up by the sport's governing bodies to investigate allegations of match-fixing, was alerted by several betting operators who had noted suspicious activity around Tuesday's match.
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.
The Austrian won 6-1 6-4 6-2. Both Melzer and American Odesnik deny any wrongdoing.
Online betting exchange Betfair reported that odds on a three-set victory for the 26th seeded-Melzer had tumbled from their pre-match level of evens to 1-5.
According to media reports, all but 1,000 pounds ($1,657) of the 255,000 staked on Betfair's correct-score market came down on a Melzer win in straight sets.
"Those (incidents of match-fixing) are things definitely we're trying to fight," said Federer.
"We have a good set up, so we can't avoid that there are some funny results sometimes here and there.
"That doesn't mean it's really happening. I never knew it existed until a few years ago when all of a sudden I heard about it. So I've been shocked to hear it.
"We always hope that the players also want the best for the sport. That's what it comes down to," added the Swiss.
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 in tennis.
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