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Davydenko: Constant focus on betting probe a drain

SHANGHAI, China -- Nikolay Davydenko says he's angry and
frustrated.

Nearly every day, his name is in the newspapers and on TV -- not
because of his No. 4 ranking, but for a match three months ago that
tennis' governing body is investigating as part of a possible
match-fixing scandal.

Has it affected Davydenko's game? Maybe. Has it affected his
mental state? Clearly.

"I'm very angry," the Russian said Saturday on the eve of the
Masters Cup. "If you read something in the press, it's bad news.
People ask me: 'True or not?' It can bother you."

While the other seven singles players in this elite field were
answering questions about their fitness and opponents, every
question aimed at Davydenko had to do with off-court issues. His
wife and brother have been questioned in the investigation.
Officials want to look at his phone records.

Such a constant focus has left him "mentally tired always,"
Davydenko said.

ATP president Etienne de Villiers, asked about the investigation
during a news conference, was careful to say it was focused on
unusual betting patterns during Davydenko's match at the Poland
Open in August -- when he retired while trailing in the third set
against Martin Vassallo Arguello of Argentina -- and not
specifically on either player.

"Our job is to connect the dots," de Villiers said, while
admitting the difficulties involved in proving whether a player
threw a match.

"We've got the very best investigators looking into what
happened," he said. "There's never a guarantee that we would get
a result. We need to try to understand what happened, where the
money was placed, by whom, and how, if there was information that
was inside, how that information was transmitted."

Whatever the outcome, Davydenko worries about permanent damage
to his reputation -- a considerable concern with the fortunes that
top players can make on endorsements.

"It's very hard to get your reputation back once people believe
you're in a certain position," de Villiers said.

Betfair, an online gambling company, voided all bets on the
Davydenko-Arguello match after unusually large amounts were wagered
on the lowly ranked Argentine throughout the match, even after he
lost the first set 6-1.

Since then, several players -- none in the higher rankings -- have
reported being approached and offered money to fix matches.

Davydenko's lawyer, Frank ImmengaI, said Friday that ATP
investigators told him that nine people based in Russia had bet
$1.5 million on Davydenko losing the match to Arguello. Another two
gamblers, whose location isn't known, boosted the total amount
waged to $6.9 million, he said.

Britain's Guardian newspaper reported that the investigators
questioned Davydenko's wife about the player's ability to withstand
pain since he reportedly received treatment before and during the
Poland match.

Davydenko's troubles have piled up since the betting
investigation began.

He was fined $2,000 by the ATP for "lack of best effort"
during a 1-6, 7-5, 6-1 loss to Marin Cilic at St. Petersburg last
month, then was jeered by the crowd -- and criticized by the chair
umpire -- while committing 10 double faults in a straight-set loss
to Marcos Baghdatis in Paris.

Davydenko said he believes his body is breaking down partly
because of fatigue and mental stresses. Every year, he plays one of
the heaviest schedules on the men's tour -- a schedule that he said
he would curtail next year.

Davydenko's comments came as a lower-ranked player, Alessio di Mauro, was suspended for nine months and fined $60,000 for betting on tennis matches, becoming the first player to be sanctioned under the ATP's new anti-corruption rules. He was found to have made 120 bets with an online bookmaker from Nov. 2, 2006 to June 12, 2007.

"At the very top of the game we don't have problems," said world No. 1
Roger Federer, who added he's never been approached. "I think it's more low-ranked players maybe who do have
the temptation."

Federer said he supported bans for tennis players found
guilty of betting on matches.

"We are going to solve the issue. Honestly to bet on tennis
as a tennis player I just don't think that's right. You should
be fined or banned.

"How long? That's up to other people to decide but I think
we should be very hard on these people."

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.