A few comments from Sharapova about gambling and the new AO surface.
Sharapova: Women's tennis "very clean"
SINGAPORE (AP) -- Maria Sharapova said Saturday she believed women's tennis is taking the necessary measures to remain clean amid allegations of match-fixing and illegal betting in the men's game.
"The women's game is very clean," the fifth-ranked player said one day before an exhibition match with her sixth-ranked Russian compatriot, Anna Chakvetadze.
Sharapova, 20, said WTA Tour chief executive and chairman Larry Scott "is doing all the things possible, from having meetings throughout the year to encouraging players to be safe and smart about their choices.
"Unfortunately we have to be realistic about the fact that some of these things do go on ... but at the end of the day I believe that women's tennis is doing a great job of being clean," Sharapova said.
Concerns about match-fixing in men's tennis have risen since August, when an online betting company reported unusual betting patterns during a match between fourth-ranked Nikolay Davydenko of Russia and Martin Vassallo Arguello of Argentina. Since then, several players have said they were approached with offers to fix matches for money.
The ATP, which recently introduced new anti-corruption rules, suspended Italians Potito Starace and Daniele Bracciali for making bets on tennis matches involving other players.
Sharapova also welcomed the new surface that the upcoming Australian Open will be played on. Organizers of the 2008 event, the year's first tennis major, have replaced the cushioned Rebound Ace courts at Melbourne Park with firmer Plexicushion.
"Especially in extreme heat, the court gets very sticky and a lot of injuries can occur," Sharapova said. "So I'm very excited about it and it will be good to have a good week of practice before to get used to it."
The new Plexicushion surface is expected to produce a lower ball bounce than Rebound Ace. Organizers also expect the new surface will retain less heat, which makes it better suited to Australian conditions.