Suspected match fixing at Wimbledon and US Open

Tennis is not going through its best moment, the great legends are increasingly moving away from the circuit due to their respective ages and to that was added that the International Agency for the Integrity of Tennis (ITIA, according to its acronym in English), reported that received a total of 38 alerts of suspected fixes matches, between July and September of this year.

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Despite the large figure in terms of the number of possible fixes, the most shocking data does not happen there. It turns out that the most shocking thing is the category of four of those 38 matches: two are corresponding to Wimbledon and another two to the US Open. Still, it is important to note that no further data has been disclosed on which matches were or which players were implicated by the understandings that are kept confidential with the regulated gambling industry.

Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York, scene of the United States Open (AP)

Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York, scene of the United States Open (AP)

There are another couple of games that stand out on this last quarter’s alert list: one of an ATP 250, although it is not specified in which of all, and another corresponding to the Davis Cup, which also does not detail in what phase of the tournament the suspicion took place.

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It should be noted that in the case of Wimbledon, the report confirms and ratifies the suspicion that the ITIA itself threw three months ago, where it stated that a singles match and a doubles match were being investigated due to irregularities in the amount of bets and time in which these were carried out. According to the German newspaper Die Welt, the doubles was for a first-round match and the singles was one involving a player of German nationality.

The remaining 32 matches correspond to the Challenger Tour (13), the Women’s World Tennis Tour (3) and the Men’s World Tennis Tour (16).. The last two circuits belong to the third category of professional tennis, where, far from television cameras, it is much more difficult for players to get money, a situation that certain organizations or rivals can take advantage of.

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As explained by the ITIA in its quarterly report, When a potential tamper alert is received, it is carefully analyzed to see what has happened. The agency emphasizes that an alert of this style does not imply a proven arrangementRather, “unusual betting patterns” can occur for various reasons, such as misplaced betting odds or bettors hitting several full games, as well as fatigue or injuries to players. These causes serve as triggers for an investigation.

Yana Sizikova and her particular episode in Paris

Yana Sizikova and her particular episode in Paris

In June of this year, the Russian Yana Sizikova (117th in the WTA doubles ranking) was arrested in Paris while playing the French Open for allegedly being involved in a 2020 Roland Garros first-round match fix, for committing two controversial double faults. Despite the court ruling, where she was accused of “sports corruption” and “organized gang fraud”, a few hours later, the tennis player regained her freedom and continued competing as if nothing had happened.

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In the past three months, five players were sanctioned by the ITIA due to the fixes. Both the Uzbek Temur Ismailov and the Moroccan Simohamed Hirs were sentenced for life from the circuit. Amal Sultanbekov, also from Uzbekistan, was punished for five years and Dario Drebenstedt, from Germany was sentenced to leave the courts for a year. For its part, Hichem Yasri, from Algeria was suspended for three months.

Local antecedents

Argentine tennis has been one of the great protagonists of match fixing. This year, Argentina added two more sanctions related to match-fixing and betting: that of the Galician Franco Feitt, who was suspended for life, and the Nicolas Arreche, a native of Chascomús and who is still waiting to know the final punishment.

Nicolás Kicker, one of the sanctioned.

Nicolás Kicker, one of the sanctioned.

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These two are joined by three other Argentine players, who had already received a sanction in 2018. The first is Nicolás Kicker, who has already returned to the slopes after two years and eight months of absence, the second is Patrick Heras, who was given three years of suspension, and the last one, Federico Coria, who only stopped two months for failing to report an attempted bribery.

The official list of alerts reported by the ITIA between July and September:

Wimbledon: 2
US Open: 2
Challenger: 13
ATP 250: 1
Davis Cup: 1
​Challenger: 13
ITF M25 masculino: 9
ITF M15 masculino: 7
ITF W15 femenino: 2 ​
ITF W80 femenino: 1

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