Feliciano Lpez, who partners the returning Andy Murray in the doubles at Queens Club, has denied involvement in an alleged betting scam at Wimbledon in 2017
Feliciano Lpez sought to restore some injured pride on Wednesday when he denied any suggestion that he and his regular doubles partner, Marc Lpez, had been involved in an alleged betting scam at Wimbledon in 2017.
The Spaniard, who partners Andy Murray in his comeback at Queens Club on Thursday, beat the Hungarian Marton Fucsovics 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-4, in the first round of the singles at the Fever-Tree Championships on a rain-marred day three and then faced some tough media questions about the claims, which first appeared on Tuesday in the Spanish digital newspaper El Confidencial.
Lpez, who won the 2016 French doubles title with his compatriot and namesake and was singles champion here in 2017, said he did not know and had never met the retired Spanish footballers reportedly under investigation for the alleged betting coup, Ral Bravo, a Leeds player briefly in 2003, and La Liga veteran Carlos Aranda. No, I didnt, Lpez insisted.
According to El Confidencial, Spanish police monitored a conversation between Aranda and a third party in which the player asked for 50% commission on any bets laid on the Spaniards losing their first-round match at Wimbledon in 2017 against the Australian outsiders John-Patrick Smith and Matt Reid. The Lpez duo, seeded 11th, lost in four sets, the day after Feliciano withdrew from a singles match with a leg injury.
In a prepared statement Lpez said on Wednesday: Following reports in the media that mentioned my name and my partner, Marc Lpez, I feel it is still important to come to you and absolutely deny any link with events described in relation to the allegations of matchfixing.
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 cooperate, and they confirmed that 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.
The TIU, however, had earlier refused to confirm or deny whether it had been asked to investigate the case, an information vacuum that did little to help Lpezs initial protestation of innocence.
Lpez revealed Murray didnt say anything to him about the stories, adding: This thing can happen to every one of us. Hes happy to play with me this week. I think we can play great and hes been training normal. Andy is one of the best players in the history of tennis and Im very lucky to be playing with him.
Lpez also confided that he had been falsely accused in a British newspaper 16 years ago of throwing a match when he retired ill against Jarkko Nieminen in the first round of a tournament in Long Island. I saw the article. I went to my lawyers. They had to publish another article saying that I was not involved in any match-fixing at that time.
He said of his win against Fucsovics: Its not easy when you find yourself in an article saying that you might be a match-fixer. But I believe that I didnt do anything wrong, no? I have to deal with a lot of tweets regarding the issue, but I was just trying to focus on the match today. It was difficult for me to play and Im very happy that I went through a difficult situation when I was a set and a break down and I made it.
On a day when rain again wrecked the schedule although Dan Evans did get on court and was beaten 6-3, 6-4 by Stan Wawrinka, discussions switched to the wildcards Wimbledon announced for the championships, which start on 1 July. There was bemusement that Marco Baghdatis, 139 in the world, again is ushered into the main draw, but celebration for the 19-year-old Paul Jubb, of Hull.
I dont think he was worth a wildcard, John Lloyd said of Baghdatis, a Wimbledon semi-finalist in 2006 and quarter-finalist the following year. Hes not a big enough name and what he did was a long time ago.
Jubbs wildcard alongside the 20-year-old Jay Clarke and evergreen James Ward gives the British presence in the mens draw a patina of respectability, in support of Dan Evans, Kyle Edmund and Cameron Norrie.
The Hull teenager, not known widely outside the games hardcore, grabbed headlines briefly last month when he became the first British player to win the highest honour in American college tennis, the NCAA title. Norrie, who also played college tennis, said, Hes solid and a good athlete with a good serve. I think its a hell of an achievement.
Jubbs parents died when he was young and he was brought up by his grandmother before winning a scholarship that has transformed his young career. He will resume studies after Wimbledon and has indicated he will turn professional in May next year.