The world of professional tennis was rocked last week when news broke of a match-fixing scandal, and it appears we’re still just early in the news cycle.
A joint report by BuzzFeed and the BBC delivered evidence that indicated 16 players that have at one point been ranked in the Top 50 had been throwing matches over the last decade – with many of them competing in this year’s Australian Open. That group of players reportedly includes past Grand Slam winners, with the matches in question happening even at major tournaments like Wimbledon.
The year-long investigation reported that over the last 10 years the Tennis Integrity Unit has been notified repeatedly by sources such as foreign police and gambling regulators of potential match fixing involving the same core of players, yet has failed to act upon those tips. All of the players involved were allowed to continue competing.
The TIU, an organization set up to police the sport of tennis, countered by suggesting that the events the report refers to are from almost a decade ago in 2007. The players involved have been investigated and cleared, and there has been no new information to investigate. However, that could change shortly.
The 2016 Australian Open is ongoing and one online sportsbook suspended betting on a match on Sunday due to suspicious betting patterns. A first-round matchup between little-known players in mixed doubles would reportedly attract about $2,000 in bets on average but this particular one generated $25,000 of one-sided action.
Nearly all of that money poured in on Andrea Hlavackova and Lukasz Kubot, who were taking on Lara Arruabarrena and David Marrero. Be it coincidence or otherwise, Hlavackova and Kubot won rather easily by a 6-0, 6-3 margin.
That’s not the only tidbit that’s sure to keep adding fuel to the fire. Prior to the start of the Australian Open, Novak Djokovic, the No. 1 men’s player in the world, admitted that he had been approached about throwing a match. He stated that someone had offered his people $200,000 to drop a first-round match in St. Petersburg, Russia back in 2007.
Even though the TIU’s vigilance has come into question over the last week, the organization has produced 18 convictions with six lifetime bans since its inception in 2008. They added another feather to their cap on Monday as former Australian pro Nick Lukas pled guilty to a match-fixing charge.