Andy Murray has stressed the importance of punishing match-fixers severely after concerns over tennis's integrity threatened to overshadow the build-up to the Australian Open for the second year running.

Tennis's latest moral panic developed in response to the news that the reigning Australian Open junior champion - 18-year-old Oliver Anderson - has been charged with match-fixing offences by the Victorian Police.

"It's disappointing for the game any time something like that comes out," said Murray, who was speaking in Doha after beating Nicolas Almagro to secure his 27th consecutive win. "However, if people are caught and charged, I see that as being a positive thing.

"If it's going on and nothing is happening about it that's much worse for the future of the sport. So, if it's happening, there should be the most severe punishments for whoever is involved in it."

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The allegations surround the US$50,000 Traralgon Challenger in rural Victoria last October. According to reports from Australia, Anderson is suspected of deliberately losing the first set of his opening match, against world No 1,624 Harrison Lombe. He came back to win, dropping only two more games in the remaining two sets, before going out in the second round.

A spokesman for the Anderson family said: "Oliver is cooperating fully with authorities. He now awaits the legal process."

The story will cause much concern around Australian tennis. Not only because it has surfaced at the high point of the season Down Under, but because Anderson is a talented prospect. If proven, the charges could derail his career.

It is only 12 months since the 2016 edition of the Australian Open was overshadowed by match-fixing allegations levelled by a joint BBC/Buzzfeed investigation. Much of the detail proved to be questionable, but the general theme - that the lower levels of the game play host to institutional corruption - is clearly accurate. As a result, tennis's defences against match-fixing have been reinforced.

The Anti-Corruption Unit has doubled its investigation team from five members to 10 in the past year, while Tennis Australia announced a month ago that it has hired two former policemen as "integrity officers".

"We have upped the ante," said Ann West, Tennis Australia's head of integrity and compliance, when asked for comment on the latest allegations. "[But] it's disappointing, there's no doubt about it. You would be naive to say it wasn't."

Other leading players offered their own thoughts on the charges against Anderson. "It's very disappointing to hear," said Novak Djokovic, who also moved through into the Doha semi-finals. "Especially considering that he's young and won the junior grand slam."

Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal - who won through to the quarter-finals of the Brisbane International - expressed the feeling in the locker-room when he said: "[It] is obviously negative, always in the first month of the season [it] starts to happen. You get tired about this kind of stuff, but the most important thing is [to] fight against these kind of things.

"I don't see matches that people give up or throw the match. Maybe the lower tournaments is another story, but I don't want to talk about it, because I really don't know much. I see every [ATP Tour] match people fight, you know, people don't want to lose."

Back on the court, the world's top two men continued their relatively smooth progress towards a potential meeting in tomorrow's final in Doha.

Djokovic beat the 38-year-old Radek Stepanek - the oldest man to reach an ATP quarter-final since Jimmy Connors - by a 6-3, 6-3 margin, while Murray had to sweat a little more to squeeze past Almagro 7-6, 7-5. "It was hard conditions today, very windy, hard to get into a rhythm," said Murray.

In Chennai, British No 4 Aljaz Bedene delivered a 7-6, 6-7, 7-6 win over Martin Klizan that takes him into the quarter-finals of a tournament where he always performs well. And in Shenzhen, China, Johanna Konta reached the semi-finals via an exhausting three-hour win over world No 60 Kristyna Pliskova. Konta lost an epic second-set tie-break 13-11, but still came back to secure a 6-4, 6-7, 6-3 win.