Australian Open 2016 Match-fixing to affect tennis?

Tennis governing body ATP set to re-open investigations on alleged match-fixing, which affected over 16,000 matches since 2007.

International tennis was rocked with allegations of match-fixing in the professional tour, citing betting data and match reports since 2007 as sources and alleging that the sport’s top players are also involved in the scandal.

The said report also used data from an investigation conducted by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), which saw a pattern of suspicious behavior from a number of players – including 16 of the world’s top 50 players – from an examination of over 16,000 matches.

All of the information that was revealed through an investigative piece by the BBC and BuzzFeed News came to light right at the worst possible time for the sport right before the start of the Australian Open, the Grand Slam season’s first event.

In a confidential report released to top tennis officials in 2008, the Tennis Integrity Unit has recommended that 28 of them – including some grand slam title winners – be investigated for their roles for allegedly dropping games.

According to the reports, players generally lose around £100,000 or roughly around $150,000 per minor tournament, which led to a number of them to accept the occasional bribe and deliberately practice “tanking” – defined as deliberately losing matches by not giving their best efforts.

Suspicion on match-fixing began in 2007 after a match between Nikolay Davidenko and Martin Vasallo Arguello, when a large number of bettors started wagering on the underdog Vassallo Arguello to win.

Davidenko was up in the first set, but dropped the second set and then started hobbling during the third game of the third set. He repeatedly called for medical timeouts, and subsequently withdrew from the match due to injury.

Betfair, which took in bets for the match, placed suspicion on the betting trend and eventually suspended the market and all bets placed for the match were declaired void.

It has been alleged that gambling syndicates in Russia, which touched matches in major tournaments including Wimbledon and French Open, were the ones behind the rigging of the said match. Later, both Davidenko and Vassallo Arguello were cleared of any wrongdoing.

According to ATP Chairman Chris Kermode through Reuters, the organization is ready to investigate the allegations thrown at the sport.

“The Tennis Integrity Unit and the tennis authorities absolutely reject any suggestion that evidence of match fixing has been suppressed for any reason or isn’t being thoroughly investigated,” said Kermode.

“And while the BBC and BuzzFeed reports mainly refer to events from about 10 years ago, we will investigate any new information, and we always do,” he added.

It is said that around eight of those named in the 2008 inquiries are taking part in this year’s Australian Open field.

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