World number one Novak Djokovic insists he has not been distracted at the Australian Open by allegations he deliberately lost a match in 2007.
Djokovic is bidding to win a sixth title this year in Melbourne and he improved his chances on Friday by beating Italy’s Andreas Seppi 6-1 7-5 7-6 (8/6) to reach the fourth round.
In the build-up to the match, however, Djokovic was forced to answer questions relating to claims made by Italian newspaper Tuttosport on Wednesday that he had “wanted” to lose against France’s Fabrice Santoro at the Paris Masters nine years ago.
Djokovic described the allegations as “not true” and “absurd”.
The report followed an investigation carried out by the BBC and Buzzfeed, which alleged 16 players who have ranked in the top 50 were repeatedly flagged up to the sport’s authorities over suspicion of match-fixing but no further action was taken.
Asked if he had found preparing for his match against Seppi difficult, Djokovic said: “Honestly I’ve had quite a few press conferences in my life. I understand how I need to carry myself.
“Obviously this subject of conversation, I would say speculation, has come up, and it’s not a regular, I would say, subject of press conferences.
“But, you know, it is what it is and we expected it. When we heard the story would come out, we all expected questions from you guys.
“I’m just glad that I still didn’t get any this press conference because I have nothing more to say there. The story that was supposed to be big is not really big. I guess we have to shut it down.
“You have to deal with it. You have to deal with it and accept it.”
Djokovic was also left confused after a tribute he made to the retiring Lleyton Hewitt was cut from a video shown after the Australian’s final match last night.
The video shown in Rod Laver Arena included tributes from Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal and Nick Kyrgios - but Djokovic’s did not appear.
“I have no comment. I don’t know,” Djokovic said. “I’ve done it, but it wasn’t there. I don’t know. I guess we have to ask them.”
Tennis Australia claimed the omission had been due to a production error.
A spokesman said: “Due to a production error unfortunately the wrong video was shown on the night. Novak’s message was recorded.”