Djokovic Offered Over $200K to Throw a Match; Elseneer, Norman Also Approached
by Sean Randall | September 27th, 2007, 2:59 pm

This story is a couple days old, but worth refreshing. On the heels on Nikolay Davenko’s investigation last month, I wrote about how tennis is an easy target for criminal organizations looking to cash in by fixing matches. Well, things are not getting any better for tennis. ADHEREL

According to reports – and chances are you’ve heard the news – Novak Djokovic revealed that he was offered $220K to throw a match at St. Petersburg last year. That’s not money to show up at the tournament (i.e., guarantee money), but money that would be given to him by criminals interests provided he lost his first round match.

Djokovic wound up never playing in St. Pete, but if he had and had accepted and followed-thru with the deal just how many people would have actually known? I mean, how many people even know there’s a tournament in St. Pete??

And it doesn’t stop there.

Belgian fringe players Gilles Elseneer and Dick Norman disclosed that they, too, have been asked to tank.

Writes Leo Schlink in the Melbourne Herald Sun, “Elseneer said he was told he could earn $114,000 if he lost his first-round match at Wimbledon two years ago against Italian Potito Starace. Elseneer said he dismissed the offer out of hand and won the match in straight sets. Norman said he had been offered almost $15,000 to provide information on player injuries but refused.”

Said Elsner: “I had my honour as a player to protect and Wimbledon meant everything to me. They said I should take my time and give them my reply the next day, but I only needed a couple of minutes to realise it was impossible for me to contemplate.”

Tommy Haas weighed in giving his thoughts to Reuters: “You hear stories and you wonder why we aren’t watching out for these guys at tournaments. There have been cases where it’s quite obvious. We’ve had meetings about gambling… those who do it shouldn’t get away with it.”

Pat Cash wants to set up a policing unit, and he says he knows just who to target, “There is obviously a lot of money to be made, and from what I’ve heard, a lot of this comes back to the Russian mafia. I was never approached myself, but I have heard the rumours and they are pretty strong. There are some big gamblers trying to get involved in the sport, and it would be better for everyone if they weren’t there.”

While it’s refreshing that Djokovic, Elseneer and Norman did the right thing and turned the other way, but you really have to wonder just how many players do not and say yes. It’s scary to think that if people are approaching guys like Dick Norman and Gilles Elseneer at Wimbledon, imagine who else is getting hit up ot even worse, who bites and takes the offer.

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21 Comments for Djokovic Offered Over $200K to Throw a Match; Elseneer, Norman Also Approached

Ryan Says:

It’s sad that this plague is spreading to tennis.In any sport if high profile betting is involved then it slowly creeps into match fixing.Imagine a scenario where federer and nadal are approached and nadal gives up french open to federer and federer gives up wimbledon to nadal.I’m just kidding coz they are too classy to fall for this.Besides money is not an issue for them.It’s more about prestige.But in general if players are getting more money for losing than winning then anybody will be enticed.Another point is that if people who are favourites lose in the early rounds due to genuine reasons they will be suspected by the fans for being involved in this.So the next time federer loses to a canas or a volandri questions could be raised.It’s sad to see this happening.

Alfredo Says:

Look out for Sharapova’s father.
That guy gives me the crips.

tati Says:

i don’t get it. why would some of the top players accept such low amounts of money, when they can play and earn more than what is being offered.

JDC Says:

Most of the bribes are more than the prize money. (For instance, the winner at St. Pete only earns $140k, yet the bribe is $220k.) Financially, it’s win-win for both the player and the briber. The player pockets more than he/she would have, and the bribers make far more from betting against the odds. Of course, it’s terrible for the sport and morality.

Granted, the deeper rounds of Wimbledon pays more than $114k, but the bribers offered a player who would clearly not make those rounds … so the bribe still offered significant financial gain for the player. That sum is probably a significant portion of Elseneer’s earnings in a year (or maybe even more than his yearly prize money).

This is a serious problem.

Colin Says:

Alfredo, what’s Sharapova’s father got to do with it? Are you suggesting he’s involved in bribery? Try suggesting that in a newspaper, and see where it gets you! And you mean “creeps” not “crips”.

John (1) Says:


re: “Norman said he had been offered almost $15,000 to provide information on player injuries but refused.”

In the Davydenko case, if my memory is correct, he was injured prior to that match. Player injury info is probably easy to obtain, without bribing anyone.

penise Says:

Now we know why Joker lost all those set points on his serve.

Dr. Death Says:

This has the makings of a bad movie. Wilson will have to provide holsters for sidearms on their racket bags. More work for ex-SAS guys?

World sports have become a vehicle for gambling. There are TWO cable stations in HK that provide nothing but odds information on football (soccer) matches around the world.

The one fortunate event is the emergence of legitimate betting organizations which have a vested interest in games and matches not being fixed. The Masters of Tennis and other sports must work closely with these organizations and monitor and investigate betting irregularities.

Then there must be no mercy given to any player found guilty of conspiring to throw a match.

kamret Says:

PETE Cash? Who is that??? I guess you meant PAT Cash!

Nina Says:

And now Dmitry Tursunov says he was offered bribes multiple times…How come nobody says who was offering those bribes?:-)

claycourtrafa Says:

because the mafia doesnt will kill them

Sean Randall Says:

Kamret, good question. Will have to fix that!

Nina, is think claycourtrafa said it best, because they want to live! I can’t imagine the players who have come forward will be giving out any names/specifics on who contacted them about throwing a match. The “I can’t remember” defense would be best advised if and when queried.

Tati, JDC is right, and as I mentioned in an earlier post if the price is right anyone will listen. Even top players like Davydenko who make a few million a year can be had. While three million may be a lot for us, Davydenko knows that as the No. 4 guy in tennis he earns far less than the No. 4 guys in golf, basketball, F1, soccer, etc.

And in tennis for many guys there are no gauranteed contracts. Now gaurantee money will be there next year. An ankle turn could be a career ender. They know that so i’m sure some them take all they can get while they can get it.

zola Says:

This is really sad. I want to watch real tennis not a pre-fixed match.

I have two things to say:
As much as I dislike Sharapova and Joker, I think it is really unfair and wrong to accuse”ANYBODY” or even imply match fixing for them. Don’t bring your grudges against the players by throwing dirt on them. please!

Why no one reports those who appraoch them for match-fixing? How hard is it to report them to ATP? If the playes react strongly to these guys, they will not have the guts to approach the players.

Anyway, maybe the best thing is to ban the betting for tennis. I know it can go underground, but then it will not be legal and it is easier to take action against it. Players who participate in ,match -fixing should be fined and suspended.

Dr. Death Says:

Zola – do you know how many guys named Guido and Serge own designer suits and hang around tennis people?

I reckon in most cases the players would be unable to provide a real last name and the person making the offer would be gone in a flash.

I just googled “tennis gambling”btw. Take a look and see what comes up!

zola Says:

Dr Death,
you are right. those who apprach players probably know how to disguise and disappear. Still, I think if players be more open about this and at least identify all “Serge”s,there is a chance one of them can be caught. I am sure if ATP wants to be serious, they will find lots of ways for it .

also there is a chance that by players being more careful, reporting, describing these guys to the police, maybe the supply of Guidos and Serges can run out!

I heard about tennis gambling when looking for live stream. Most tennis betting sites (bwin, have live streaming for each and every sport they put bets on!) so there is sure lots of money there!

John (1) Says:

Note: Afinogenov is Elena Dementieva’s boy friend.

“The FBI wanted to know what happened to Maxim Afinogenov. Afinogenov arrived at Buffalo Sabres training camp in 2002 days after signing the contract that showed he finally made it as an NHL force. The problem was, along with his first seven-figure salary, he had a gruesome gash in his forehead and a serious concussion. Afinogenov said he celebrated his new contract, which was signed on his birthday, by traipsing to a Moscow rink with some friends to play a pickup game. The fleet-footed right winger claimed an errant puck laid him out. Few believed him. The FBI, aware of horrific tales of Russian mobsters targeting wealthy countrymen, looked into the suspicious incident. The FBI failed to learn much, which shouldn’t come as a surprise even to a gumshoe.”

John (1) Says:


“Gambling in tennis not so far-fetched”
by Stephanie Myles
on 10/2/2007


“The Guardian newspaper in Britain reported Djokovic, then ranked just inside the top 20, was offered $250,000 to throw his first-round match at the St. Petersburg event in Russia last year. The Sun claimed the offer came from the Russian or Ukrainian mafia. Djokovic skipped the tournament.”

Richard Says:

Match fixing has probably been going on for a very long time. It is really now just coming to light. The ATP will have to do something, but I don’t see their solution as being appropriate. Threating to ban players will likely not stop some from taking bribes. I think that the gambling sites will be the ones who will have the power to stop match fixing. By not paying out on very odd results, people won’t want to fix matches anymore.

Need help with your tennis game, then visit

John (1) Says:

Sean wrote:

‘Writes Leo Schlink in the Melbourne Herald Sun, “Elseneer said he was told he could earn $114,000 if he lost his first-round match at Wimbledon two years ago against Italian Potito Starace. Elseneer said he dismissed the offer out of hand and won the match in straight sets. Norman said he had been offered almost $15,000 to provide information on player injuries but refused.”’

Just an observation: The Davydenko match was first round and he was injured prior to the match. The two components of the above quote are “first round and injured”.

Today Serena lost to Patty Schnyder in the first round 60, 30 and retired with injury.

Now if the betting was huge on this match for Patty to win, what would the assumption be?

For what it’s worth, I predicted that Patty would beat Serena today. Why? I saw the final in Moscow on the Tennis Channel. Serena looked worn out in the third set. IMO, too much running got to her. I didn’t think she would recover fast enough to beat Patty. Which is pretty much what happened. For what it’s worth I didn’t expect it to be a blowout.

My point is that sometimes it’s fairly obvious to see when a player is going to under perform.

John (1) Says:

There’s a link to an Andy Murray video on this page but I can’t get it to work. Anyone care to try? Cick on “Video: Andy Murray on corruption”.

John (1) Says:

typo: Click not Cick

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