Gambling Cloud Continues to Darken Tennis
by Sean Randall | October 11th, 2007
  • 10 Comments

Tennis is really looking good these days. When you do a search for the tennis in the news, here’s what you get (or at least I got): A story about a sick, perverted female tennis coach in England who wears her student’s panties, and then of course gambling. Feel good stories they are not. So much for tennis being in a dead spot PR-wise this time of year I guess.


In regards to the first story, I will only say that that coach needs to be locked away forever. Simple as that.

On to the gambling issue. According to the AP the governing bodies of tennis have in their possession a document listing 150 “suspicious”, potentially fixed matches dating back to 2002. The 150 matches include some from Grand Slam tournaments, according to the report.

First, I have to say I’d love to see that list.

Second, 150 matches is a lot of matches. That’s more matches then the US Open men’s singles draw had this year (127). So imagine a whole Grand Slam singles draw with every match fixed and we still don’t get to 150.

Now I doubt that all 150 matches were indeed fixed, but then again I think it would be naïve to believe that there was absolutely no foul play in any of them either.

And Andy Murray seems certain foul play does exist, telling the BBC this week in Moscow, “everyone knows it goes on. … I’m not going to name names … I’ve just spoken to quite a lot of the players about that and there’s obviously something that needs to be addressed. I’m going to speak to the ATP in Madrid to discuss that.”

So again, it’s getting pretty clear that based on what some of the players (Nadal doubted Murray’s claims) have been saying, based on the evidence and based on the fact that tennis matches, unlike team sports, is an easier target for those with evil intentions, I think it’s fair to say match fixing does go on and has gone on. When, where and how much remains unclear.

And in some ways I don’t think people want to know just how prevalent the problem might be.

Imagine if it’s uncovered that several Slam finals have been fixed. That’s just the kind of news could bring the sport down. So how deep do you want to dig?

All this has lead to a Friday meeting of the ATP, ITF and WTA. Already the ATP has instituted a rule requiring players who are approached by punters to report the incident within 48 or suffer sanctions, but far, far more measures will be needed to properly grapple this issue.

Undercover sting operations? Surveillance? Wire tapping? Internet key-logging? Maybe that’s the future of tennis. Let’s hope not.


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10 Comments for Gambling Cloud Continues to Darken Tennis

John (1) Says:

Comparing this to steroids:

The main difference is:
with steroids: the bad guy wins
with match fixing: the bad guy loses

From a non-gambling tennis fan point of view, at least the good guy wins.


JB Says:

Maybe it keeps the record books clean (depending on what stage in the tourney it occurred), but the bad guy loses a match and still takes home possibly more money than the winner may get. Whoever is backing the effort rips off the other gamblers. And the fans get a match as real as WWE wrestling.


Susan Says:

I’m counting on the “Powers to Be” to do something extreme to ANYONE who participates. I am proud the sport of tennis tackles the problem of illegal substances. Football & baseball’s handling are jokes and insulting to every fan’s intelligence. I’m hoping the same for gambling!! I think they should talk to the veterans behind closed doors. I’m hoping for the best and that tennis will, once again, be the example.


zola Says:

no one wins in a fixed match and there is no good guy in a fixed match.

I like the new rule that the players have to inform ATP of match fixing propositions within 48 hours. I am still in dark as why Djoko or others have never informed ATP before.

Murray just issued a statement today saying his remarks have been taken out of context:

“The comments that I made with regard to betting in tennis have been taken out of context and I would like to clarify them. When I said ‘everyone knows that it’s going on’ I meant that everyone has probably heard that three or four players have spoken out about being offered money to lose matches – which they refused. I am glad that the tennis governing bodies are coming together to set up an anti-corruption unit to address this and I stand fully behind this effort. Tennis has been a part of my entire life and it is a privilege to compete at the highest levels of the sport.”

—–

Again, if he knows something or names, he should tell ATP. no mercy!

the list of 150 suspicious ATP matches are probably the matches when an underdog won or someone withdrew . There is no way to prove these are match fixing. ATP should just be alret from now on .

And why not go to the source why should internet betting be allowed? Can the betting at least be limited? For example extreme bets or withdrawls would not count? or last minute upsets?


Dr. Death Says:

This is starting to remind me of UFOs. The biggest danger here especially looking back to 2002 is that every time there is an upset, people including the tennis gods start thinking “fix”.

I am pleased to see Murray clarified his statement, but the UFO momentum is there already and this is not good for the sport.

The legitimate gambling sites must be more concerned about this than even we. Fixing any game takes money out of their pockets. I reckon that they are anxious to cooperate in providing data that shows betting irregularities.

Ah, for the old days of Las Vegas where they knew how to deal with such problems.


rudi Says:

Andy Murray has been fully on the ATP for about two and a half years, not including injury time. Funny that he would have so much ‘dope’ on match fixing, when seasoned players appear to know a lot less. He is not credible, let the investigation take its course. Its blown all out of proportion, but I guess tennis is desperate for some notoriety.
I don’t believe Lance Armstrong was pursued (by the governing body for cycling and media)as vigorously as Davydenko, when there is much more evidence, innuendo, annecdotes and revelations to link him (the former) to cheating. Why is the media persecuting the players when the findings are not yet conclusive?


SG Says:

Tennis and boxing come to my mind as two sports where this kind of thing can go on quite easily. The team sport concept does limit the damage cause by match tampering somewhat. But, in games like tennis or boxing, where you need to only influence one person to alter the match, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel. For as long as there has been pro sports, there have been cheaters and frauds. Bring millions of dollars into the equation and the charletons will be lining up to cash in. And I have no doubt that some players fall into this category. It’s not possible that all of the top 50 players have characters white as snow. Life just isn’t like that.

Where the amount of gambling $’s can far exceed the prize money for a match (…or even a tournament), it’s not that unfathomable that a player may do better financially by taking a bribe rather than play the match. Not all of these players are Federer or Rafa who live and die by winning and losing. Tennis players are people too. They are subject to the frailties of greed and dishonesty just like the rest of us. And then there is threat of physical harm to a player who “doesn’t follow the game plan”. How do you punish a player for a situation like this? Given a choice between my family being harmed or throwing a tennis match, the choice would be pretty simple.

Anyways, it’s a serious problem. It’s tough to prove a player lost a match he should have won. This being said, the investigation should go forward. Players should be warned that if they are caught match tampering that not only will they permanently be banned from the sport, but that all their career prize money will have to be forfeited. These are tough measures. But, only tough measures yield results.


Sean Randall Says:

Based on the comments and what I’ve read out of Madrid, sounds like the top players/ATP have taken a stance to simply dismiss any gambling claims. Fair enough I reckon. The easiest way to eliminate a problem is to act like there isn’t one, change the topic and hope the story just dies out on its own.


paul taylor Says:

A story just broke yesterday: Arnaud Clement says he was approached to throw a match but he says he will not say where or when. Hello??? Why not say where and when? How else can it be investigated? The ATP should make it mandatory for all players to report any instances where they have been approached to fix a match. Failure to do so would mean an automatic suspension if it became known.
The fixing of matches is bad for tennis and all sports in general. Players have to be involved in ending it but not just by saying they brushed someone approaching them aside. Find out who and where. That’s how you go after it.

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