Weird Betting at a Wimbledon Already on Alert for Match-Fixing - Tarnished Twenty
Tarnished Twenty- The FindLaw Sports Law Blog

Weird Betting at a Wimbledon Already on Alert for Match-Fixing

Already on "high alert" over suspicions of possible match-fixing, Wimbledon officials got a scare in the form of a report from one betting company. An AP story reported on how the bookmaker, Betfair, said "the company received more than six times as many wagers as usual for Jurgen Melzer's first-round match against Wayne Odesnik on Tuesday."

Nevertheless, it turns out that the company suspects no wrongdoing in this particular case. Instead, the company is pointing the finger at TV commentators, who may have caused the odd betting by reporting that Odesnik was injured (he lost the match in straight sets).

Wimbledon officials could be breathing a sigh of relief at the innocent explanation. A recent report by The Independent had indicated that a number of players (up to 12) were on a "watch list" for officials to scrutinize during Wimbledon match play, due to their "past involvement in matches where suspicious betting happened and match-fixing was suspected." It isn't clear who the players on the watch list may be, but the bottom line is that worries about match-fixing in tennis are certainly not uncommon.

Probably the most prominent recent allegation of match-fixing involved a 2007 match in Poland between then-world No. 5 Nikolay Davydenko of Russia, who took on 87th ranked Argentine Martin Vassallo Arguello. The Independent's report noted the rather extreme irregularities in both the odds for that match (i.e. Davydenko was the underdog), plus the betting amounts and patterns on the match. Davydenko ended up retiring in that match from injury, and Betfair (yes, the same company) ended up voiding all of the bets on the match.

Nevertheless, everyone involved denied any misconduct, and an investigation by the ATP, "which failed to gain access to some phone records, concluded last September with a carefully worded statement that said: 'The ATP has now exhausted all avenues of enquiry open to it.'" Not surprisingly, that statement apparently hasn't cleared much of the dark match-fixing cloud that still hovers over tennis.