Feliciano Lopez denies match-fixing allegations ahead of Murray match-up
Spaniard and his doubles partner have been named in police inquiry into corruption
Spain’s Feliciano Lopez attends a press conference during day three of the Fever-Tree Championships at Queens Club on Wednesday in London. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Feliciano Lopez has launched a fierce denial of any link to match-fixing and said he hopes the controversy will not overshadow Andy Murray’s return to action.
The Spaniard was all smiles on Sunday as he told of his excitement at partnering Murray on his competitive return from hip surgery at Queen’s Club.
However, on Tuesday the 37-year-old discovered he and doubles partner Marc Lopez had been named in a police investigation into corruption in sport by a Spanish newspaper.
According to El Confidencial, an investigation into alleged match-fixing in football involving former players Raul Bravo and Carlos Aranda, has now extended to tennis and involves a match the Lopezes lost at Wimbledon in 2017.
The report claimed investigators listened in to Aranda’s phone and heard him say that the Spanish pair would lose to Australians Matt Reid and John-Patrick Smith.
Reading from a prepared statement, Lopez said: “Following reports in media that mentioned my name and my partner, Marc Lopez, I feel it is still important to come to you and absolutely deny any link with events described in relation to the allegations of match-fixing.
“Unfortunately, all tennis players are public figures and exposed to having our good name used beyond our control. For that reason, I will do everything within my power to defend myself against any such false accusations.
“Marc and I had immediately contacted the TIU [Tennis Integrity Unit] to fully co-operate, and they confirmed there had been no investigation about that match at Wimbledon 2017. We have full faith in the TIU and the role they play protecting our sport.
“I have always believed in the values of fair play. It has been the case during my long career and I stand for the integrity of the game, which is so important.
“I am now focused on giving my best, as always, and to play with 100 per cent focus at Queen’s.”
Lopez had retired injured from his singles match the day before the doubles match in question.
He added: “These gamblers, they know, they have information that you maybe are not 100 per cent or that you have an issue, an injury, whatever, and they put a lot of money on your name. That’s an issue we have to solve.
“I injured my foot, and I had to retire in that match. Then we tried to play doubles. We tried to do our best, and we ended up losing the match. That’s all.”
Lopez, who said he had never met Bravo or Aranda, put aside the furore to win his first-round singles match at the Fever-Tree Championships against Hungarian Marton Fucsovics.
He will face Juan Martin Del Potro on Thursday in the second round before, weather permitting, teaming up with Murray in the doubles.
Asked if the matter had affected his preparation, he said: “Well, of course it’s not easy when you find yourself in an article saying that you might be a match fixer. But I believe I didn’t do anything wrong.
“He [Murray] didn’t say anything. I mean, this thing can happen to every one of us. That’s the problem that we have.
“It’s a very exciting moment, and I don’t want this thing to overshadow this doubles match.
“The most important thing is that I played today, I won my match, I’m going to play tomorrow against Del Potro, one of the best players in the game, and also doubles with Andy. It’s exciting for me.”