Over the last decade, 16 players of top 50 ranked players have been flagged to the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) over suspicions they have thrown matches. All of these players, including winners of Grand Slam titles, were allowed to continue competing.
TIU has a zero-tolerance approach to betting-related corruption and Chris Kermode, head of the Association of Tennis Professionals, rejected claims that evidence of match-fixing had “been suppressed for any reason or isn’t being thoroughly investigated”.
World tennis number one Novak Djokovic confirmed that members of his support team were approached about throwing a match in Russia back in 2007 and he has, since then, questioned whether betting companies should be allowed to sponsor big tennis tournaments.
”I was not approached directly. I was approached through people that were working with me at that time,” he said. ”Of course, we (rejected) it right away. It didn’t even get to me – the guy that was trying to talk to me, he didn’t even get to me directly. There was nothing out of it.”
”We have, I think, a sport (that has) evolved and upgraded our programs and authorities to deal with these particular cases,” he said. ”There’s no real proof or evidence yet of any active players (being involved in match-fixing), for that matter. As long as it’s like that, it’s just speculation.”
”Honestly it’s on a borderline, I would say,” Djokovic said. ”Whether you want to have betting companies involved in the big tournaments in our sport or not, it’s hard to say what’s right and what’s wrong.”
As for Roger Federer he has heard enough speculation about match fixing and now wants the names of the suspected players. According to BBC and Buzzfeed News, tennis authorities have suppressed evidence of match-fixing and overlooked suspected cases involving players ranked in the top 50. The reports states that these players had never faced sanctions and more than half would be playing at this year’s Australian Open. The players were not identified by name.
”I would love to hear names,” Federer said. ”Then at least it’s concrete stuff and you can actually debate about it. Was it the player? Was it the support team? Who was it? Was it before? Was it a doubles player, a singles player? Which Slam?”
”It’s super serious and it’s super important to maintain the integrity of our sport,” Federer added. ”So how high up does it go? The higher it goes, the more surprised I would be.”
TIU chief Nigel Willerton declined to say whether any players at the Australian Open were being monitored for suspected match-fixing.
The problem of suspicious betting and match-fixing is not going away. Stay tuned to see if names and sanctions will be handed out.