Nadal confident his sport is free from match-fixing

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KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 21 (Reuters) World number two Rafael Nadal joined Roger Federer today in playing down the threat posed by match-fixing, saying tennis was 100 percent clean.

The men's game has been hit by a series of allegations about match-fixing in recent months, with a number of players saying they had been offered money to throw matches. They all said they had rebuffed the offers.

When asked if he thought the issue had been blown out of proportion, Nadal told Reuters: ''Totally agree. I'm sure everything is 100 percent clean.'' His thoughts echoed those of world number one Federer, who said after winning the Masters Cup in Shanghai on Sunday: ''It's a great sport. It's a clean sport and I hope that in the future it's going to stay this way.'' Matches on the men's ATP tour have been under scrutiny since August when a clash between world number four Nikolay Davydenko and lowly-ranked Martin Vassallo Argeullo was voided by British betting exchange Betfair because of unusual betting patterns.

Davydenko, who retired hurt from the contest, denies any wrongdoing.

Last week, the ATP suspended Italy's 124th-ranked Alessio Di Mauro for nine months and fined him 60,000 dollars because he bet on tennis, even though he did not try to influence matches.

Federer is in the Malaysian capital for a series of exhibition matches against American Pete Sampras, who said the sport's image was being damaged by the talk of match-fixing.

''I have not been in touch with it and did not talk to any of the players but it doesn't make the sport look good when you question its integrity,'' Sampras, who holds the record of 14 grand slam singles titles, told Reuters.

''I don't know if it (Davydenko) is an isolated case but it's something the tour needs to fix.'' Nadal was also in Kuala Lumpur, where he defeated Frenchman Richard Gasquet in an exhibition match on Tuesday.

Gasquet, the world number eight, said he had never been approached to throw a match.

''I think tennis is clean,'' he told Reuters. ''Nobody came to me to give me money to lose.'' REUTERS PDS KN2125

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