Labadze unconcerned by link to match-fixing dispute
March 23, 2005
MIAMI (AFP) - Irakli Labadze opened his campaign at the 6.565 million-dollar ATP Masters Series tournament with a three-set win over Morocco's Younes El Aynaoui, then shrugged off suggestions he was linked to match-fixing in Austria.
"It was not upsetting, actually it was funny," Labadze said of his reaction on first hearing his name had been linked to a court investigation in Austria, in which a betting shop refused to pay 23,000 dollars US to Martin Fuehrer for a winning bet against Labadze.
The firm claimed Fuehrer was a friend of the player and knew he was going to lose, but Fuehrer sued the company.
Labadze indicated Wednesday that Fuehrer was just a casual acquaintance.
"All the players know him," said Labadze, adding that he first heard of the investigation when he was in the United States to play at Scottsdale, Arizona, last month.
He said he would be happy to testify before a court in Austria if required.
"I'm happy to go and answer questions," he said. "When I go back, if the court wants me to go there and ask me some questions, of course I'll go."
But Labadze said his three-set loss to unheralded Austrian Julian Knowle at St. Poelten last year was, unfortunately, entirely in character.
"I'm the kind of player, I can lose to anybody, I can beat anybody," he said. "I'm sorry I'm not consistent." Umm, we may know that, but why would you say that aloud?