Feliciano Lopez ‘absolutely denies’ match-fixing link ahead of Murray match-up

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Feliciano Lopez, left, and Andy Murray will team up at Queen’s on Thursday (Steven Paston/PA)

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 probe into corruption in sport by a Spanish newspaper.

Feliciano Lopez has been a regular feature at Wimbledon since 2002
Feliciano Lopez has been a regular feature at Wimbledon since 2002 (Adam Davy/PA)

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 cooperate, 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 then received a walkover into the quarter-finals after his scheduled second-round opponent Juan Martin Del Potro withdrew from the tournament with a right knee injury, meaning Lopez can concentrate on teaming up with Murray in the doubles – weather permitting.

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 doubles with Andy tomorrow. It’s exciting for me.”

Dan Evans was knocked out of the competition on Wednesday
Dan Evans was knocked out of the competition on Wednesday (Steven Paston/PA)

British interest, in the singles at least, was almost entirely wiped out on another day wrecked by rain.

Dan Evans found former world number three Stan Wawrinka too strong in a 6-3 6-4 defeat and wild card Jay Clarke put up a good fight in the first set against Lucas Pouille of France but lost 7-6 (2) 6-1.

Kyle Edmund is the last Briton left but his hopes of progressing to the second round are hanging by a thread.

The British number one was a set down to top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece when the rain returned, with the score at 3-3, 30-30 in the second.

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