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Natekar backs Bhupathi's match-fixing claims

Jan 23, 2008 11:18 AM IST India India

New Delhi: Two days after Mahesh Bhupathi came out with the starting revelation on match fixing, another Indian tennis player has come forward with a similar claim. Former Davis Cupper Gaurav Natekar says he, too, was asked to lose a match in 1994. "The day before we were to play the doubles final for the gold medal, I was accosted by a group on Indians who had come to cheer us and one of them took my autograph and then veered the conversation to what I felt was definitely trying to ask me to do something about the result the next day," Natekar said on Tuesday. When Bhupathi and Leander Paes took the court together, the result was often a foregone conclusion. So there's no wonder that Bhupathi was asked to throw a match during a Davius Cup tie against the Netherlands in 1996. Bhupathi spoke to Reuters and said, " I haven't been approached in the context of an ATP tournament, but I was approached maybe 10, 12 years ago, in the context of Davis Cup in India. I immediately changed my phone numbers and I never got that call again. It freaked me out." "Well first of all he was a little shaken when he came out of his room and basically said that some pone made a call to him and asked to take a match to certain point and throw it in a Davis Cup tie to which he did not answer. He put down the phone and walked out," Enrico Piperno, former India Davis Cup coach, said about Bhupathi’s claim. Three Italian players Potito Starace, Alessio Di Mauro and Daniele Bracciali have already been suspended for gambling on tennis matches while a match between world No. 4 Nikolay Davydenko of Russia and Argentina's Martin Vassallo Arguello played in Poland last August is already under investigation. But nevertheless, Bhupathi's revelations clearly raise the big question are the authorities listening? "They have hired independent experts in London with a police background in betting and uncovering betting scandals," an ITF official said. Despite assurances by the authorities, the ghost of match-fixing refuses to leave tennis. But amidst all this, one thing is for sure the scandals are only tarnishing the reputation of the game and can have serious impact on it in the longer run.