Ahead of Andy Murray match-up, Feliciano Lopez denies match-fixing link

Spaniard, who along with partner Marc Lopez is named in police probe into corruption, hopes news does not overshadow Briton's return to action

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 19: Feliciano Lopez of Spain slips in attempt to play a forehand during his mens singles first round match against Marton Fucsovics of Hungary during day X of the Fever-Tree Championships at Queens Club on June 19, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

Feliciano Lopez has launched a fierce denial of any link to match-fixing and said he hopes the controversy will not overshadow Andy Murray's return to action.

The Spaniard was all smiles on Sunday as he told of his excitement at partnering Murray on his competitive return from hip surgery at Queen's Club.

But the 37-year-old discovered on Tuesday he and doubles partner Marc Lopez had been named in a police probe into corruption in sport by a Spanish newspaper.

According to El Confidencial, an investigation into alleged match-fixing in football involving former players Raul Bravo and Carlos Aranda, has now extended to tennis and involves a match the Lopezes lost at Wimbledon in 2017.

The report claimed investigators listened in to Aranda's phone and heard him say that the Spanish pair would lose to Australians Matt Reid and John-Patrick Smith.

Reading from a prepared statement, Lopez said: "Following reports in media that mentioned my name and my partner, Marc Lopez, I feel it is still important to come to you and absolutely deny any link with events described in relation to the allegations of match-fixing.

"Unfortunately, all tennis players are public figures and exposed to having our good name used beyond our control. For that reason, I will do everything within my power to defend myself against any such false accusations."

Lopez had retired injured from his singles match the day before the doubles match in question.

He added: "These gamblers, they know, they have information that you maybe are not 100 per cent or that you have an issue, an injury, whatever, and they put a lot of money on your name. That's an issue we have to solve.

"I injured my foot, and I had to retire in that match. Then we tried to play doubles. We tried to do our best, and we ended up losing the match. That's all."

Lopez, who said he had never met Bravo or Aranda, put aside the furore to win his first-round singles match at the Fever-Tree Championships against Hungarian Marton Fucsovics.

He will face Juan Martin Del Potro on Thursday in the second round before, weather permitting, teaming up with Murray in the doubles.

Asked if the matter had affected his preparation, he said: "Well, of course it's not easy when you find yourself in an article saying that you might be a match-fixer. But I believe I didn't do anything wrong.

"He [Murray] didn't say anything. I mean, this thing can happen to every one of us. That's the problem that we have. It's a very exciting moment, and I don't want this thing to overshadow this doubles match."

Elsewhere, French Open champion Ashleigh Barty got her grass court season off to a winning start, but Johanna Konta's Wimbledon preparations suffered a blow with defeat at the Birmingham Classic.

Barty saw off a bright start from Croatia's Donna Vekic in her first match since lifting a first grand slam title to win 6-3, 6-4 and set up a second round meeting with American Jennifer Brady.

Konta also made the last four at the French Open, but her return to the grass was cut short in the second round by Jelena Ostapenko 6-3, 6-4.