Match Fixing in Tennis


It is very difficult in tennis to tell when a player is giving his all. Now that betting on tennis has become extremely popular the ATP have had to make rules to stop players not giving their best efforts. It is incredibly difficult and subjective to tell whether a player is trying his hardest. Here is the ATP ruling on the matter:

Best efforts: A player shall use his best efforts during the match when competing in a tournament. Violation of this section shall subject a player to a fine up to $10,000 for each violation. For purposes of this rule, the supervisor and/or the chair umpire shall have the authority to penalize a player in accordance with the Point Penalty Schedule. In circumstances that are flagrant and particularly injurious to the success of a tournament, or are singularly egregious, a single violation of this section shall also constitute the player Major Offense of Aggravated Behavior.

Not many players have been fined but one of them does include Roger Federer back at the beginning of his career in 1998. Having just faced Andre Agassi in front of 9,000 people Federer played in Kulbis, Switzerland on the satellite circuit with no spectators, line judges or ball boys. He double faulted almost twice a game and showed a serious lack of effort. He was fined $100 and earnt $87 making it the only professional tournament where he lost money. More recently Argentine Eduardo Schwank was fined $1000 for lack of effort during a second round loss to Juan Ignacio Chela in Houston,Texas. He did win the second set but then constantly used drop shots, lobs and foot-faulted. He claimed it was due to a back injury but did not escape a fine.

Match Fixing

There is then the issue of Match Fixing. Many players who tour around the world do not make much money at all. Their Career is not that long and they have to travel all around the world for tournaments. This can lead to players accepting pay-outs to fix a match so that others can profit from knowing they will loose.

Match Fixing in tennis first came to the media’s attention in a match involving the then world number four Nikolay Davedenko and Martin Vassallo Arguello ranked 87 in the world. Nearly £3.5 million was placed in bets on Betfair alone before Davydenko conceded the match, citing a foot injury, in the 2007 Poland Open in Sopot.

This amount was 10 times the average amount bet on a game at this level but what raised the flag that foul play could be involved was when Davydenko won the first set and his price drifted despite the fact he was up against a player much lower in the rankings and was winning. Davydenko then pulled out and conceded the match.

Betfair then voided all bets on the match. Its was a big decision to make as it led to a huge drop in the next few month on the amount bet on tennis on their site but also led to the spotlight being on the ATP as to how many games were being fixed.

An inquiry was held and went on for over a year and Davydenko was cleared in September 2008. There were problems with the inquiry however as Davydenko’s phone records were at first withheld and only made available a day after the cut off point.  Davydenko cited people overhearing a conversation he had with his mother about a lingering injury as the reasoning behind all the bets.

The ATP then had to take action and since 2007 two players have received a lifetime ban for match fixing. Austrian Daniel Koellerer received a lifetime ban in May 2011 having been found guilty of making invitations to other players to fix matches on five occasions between October 2009 and July 2010. Serbia’s David Savic received the same ban having also “made invitations to another tennis player to fix the outcome” of matches.

In the last couple of years there has not been much evidence of match fixing taking place. Tennis matches make it very difficult to prove if a match is fixed especially if a player retires injured but the ATP are on the case and do keep a close eye on irregular betting patterns and will continue to do so.


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