Alexandr Dolgopolov is in the spotlight this weekend at the US Open, but not just for reaching his second fourth round in New York. A match the Ukrainian was involved in last week at Winston Salem was flagged by the Tennis Integrity Unit because of suspicious betting patterns.
Dolgopolov was the clear favorite in his first round match against Thiago Monteiro, but by first ball, a flood of money had been wagered on the Brazilian who had never before won a tour match on a hard court.
Monteiro won the match 63, 63 and suspicions were raised, all of which Dolgopolov denied earlier in the week. But yesterday, after beating Viktor Troicki to set up a showdown with Rafael Nadal, more questions came in from the press. And Dolgopolov was having none of it!
Q. With the investigation of that match raising attention, about the issue in general, what are your thoughts on the possibilities that there are matches that are, indeed, not on the level, perhaps, on the tour?
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV: Oh, I think that’s why we have the TIU. If there’s some strange matches, you know, they investigate it.
Q. But do you think there are such matches that aren’t just strange, that there are actually occurrences where players are not doing their best and there may be some gambling involved that is connected with that?
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV: I don’t think about that. I’m not the person that should comment about that.
I mean, you cannot be perfect every week, I think. So, for sure, you can see bad matches, players playing bad. But if there is gambling involved, it’s not for me to say.
Q. Have you been interviewed by someone from the Tennis Integrity Unit about that Winston-Salem match?
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV: Yeah. Straight after I came here, I wasn’t happy with what’s going on in the press, so I was the first one to come there and try to give them all the information so they can investigate it faster.
Q. What have they told you about where things stand with their investigation?
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV: I don’t know. I don’t ask. They asked me about some information. They interviewed me. That’s it. That’s all I can do.
Q. What effect has having all this out in public about that had on you?
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV: Not much. You can see I’m playing. I’m fit. I’m doing well. Obviously it’s disappointing, but not more. If people want to write something, they write something. You can’t stop them from doing it. It’s just not under my control.
Q. In your career, have gamblers ever offered you the opportunity to throw a match?
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV: You’re going all over it again. You know my statement after the first match? You’re giving me the same questions. I’m here not to talk about betting. I already said everything that could be said, and you guys want to give me again the same questions or what?
Q. Well, part of it is that for some of us who work in television…
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV: Read about what I said in the first day. I arrived here to talk about tennis, not gambling.
Q. We just wanted to explain to you, though, in some of the rooms there are not cameras that record what’s said.
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV: So read about it on the Internet. I gave a statement. It’s enough. I’m not going to be talking about it every day. Just because one of you didn’t arrive or you have new questions, that’s it.
Q. When you were asked, with all respect…
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV: You heard what I just said?
Q. Yes, and I’d…
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV: I’m not going to be talking about gambling. You have other questions or not? We’re finished.
Q. Do you understand why…
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV: You heard what I said or not?
Q. I’m the reporter and I’d like to ask my question in my way.
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV: Is it about gambling? Yes or no?
Q. My question –
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV: No. Yes or no?
Q. The question is — I am the reporter; you’re the athlete. You can respond in any way what you want. The question is: Do you understand now the importance –
THE MODERATOR: He can ask the question. You can just say “no comment,” okay?
Q. The question, with all due respect, is: Do you understand the importance why fans, officials, the media, feel that having integrity in this sport, why no match fixing is so important?
ALEXANDR DOLGOPOLOV: I’m not commenting on gambling anymore.
THE MODERATOR: He’s not commenting. Are there any questions about tennis?
If Dolgopolov beats Nadal, look for the pressure from the press to only mount.
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