Corruption allegations and first-round knockouts send shockwaves through the Australian Open

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Melbourne Park National Tennis Centre.

JANUARY 19 saw a thrilling opening day at Melbourne Park with a betting controversy lingering over the first day´s play and a first round exit for two top players. 

In the wake of recent reports that top seeds, some of whom  are competing in the Australian Open and hold grand slam titles, are involved in a match-fixing scam, British tennis legend Andy Murray gave credence to the allegations by confirming that he wouldn´t be surprised if some elite players were complicit. 

The player, who is currently ranked No.2 in the world, said he had never been approached to fix matches, but described the world of tennis as “a little bit hypocritical” for letting betting firms such make sponsorship deals with tournament organisers. 

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Meanwhile, Spanish compatriots Fernando Verdasco and Rafael Nadal fought it out over five sets, with Verdasco victorious after smashing 90 winners and 91 unforced errors to win 7-6 (8-6), 4-6, 3-6, 7-6. 

Lefthander Verdasco dazzled the Melbourne crowds, showcasing unplayable form on court by issuing a groundstroke barrage that exposed his opponent´s weaknesses. 

This year´s loss is Nadal´s earliest exit from the Open in 11 attempts, and the second opening-round defeat in his grand slam career.

Eighth-seeded American player Venus Williams, also suffered a similarly unexpected first round defeat by British player Johanna Konta, who outclassed the veteran seed, winning 6-4 6-2 in 79 minutes. 

Williams, who won three titles in 2015 and returned to the top 10 in the rankings, gave captivated spectators a glimpse of her best form in the second set, but sealed her fate when she netted a return. 

After the game, Konta expressed her amazement at beating one of her idols, saying “When the draw came out and I saw who I was playing, I was just hoping to stay out there for more than an hour.”

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