PERTH, Dec 31: Tennis legend Martina Navratilova on Monday backed efforts to remove corruption from the sport but conceded that match-fixing was hard to prove.

Speaking at the Hopman Cup here, the winner of 59 Grand Slam titles said it was not hard for a player to deliberately throw a singles match.

“It is pretty new this match-fixing idea,” she said. “Of course if it is a problem, it’s pretty easy to throw a tennis match so it will be pretty hard to prove.”

Australian Open officials have introduced measures, including possibly pursuing criminal charges against players, aimed at preventing any illegal gambling or match-fixing at next month’s Grand Slam.

The 51-year-old Navratilova said match-fixing hadn’t been an issue during her playing days but stressed it was crucial the sport stayed clean.

“We’ll see, but we have to make sure the sport stays clean,” she said.

“Both on the drugs side as well as any kind of betting scandal.

“We have to keep it clean, whatever it takes.

“We need to make sure the players understand what’s at stake here.”

There have been rumours of match-fixing and concerns over unusual betting patterns in tennis for some time, with Russian star Nikolay Davydenko under investigation over a match in Poland in August.

The ATP recently banned Italian tennis players Potito Starace and Daniele Bracciali for betting on matches, ruling them both out of the upcoming Australian Open.—AFP

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