One of the highlights of the annual tennis calendar has been identified as the scene of a potential match fixing scandal.
Investigators have confirmed that they are looking into possible ‘irregular betting patterns’ in two matches at Wimbledon, which took place earlier in July.
Both have been reported to the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) for further scrutiny.
While the investigations are ongoing, the players involved have not been named, although the German newspaper Welt has reported that one of their countrymen was involved in the men’s singles match in question….although he was not the subject of the scrutiny.
It has been reported that in the singles match in question, a five-figure sum was wagered on the correct set score market at the end of the second set – the implication being that the bet was unusual given that investigators have been brought in.
A second contest, thought to be a men’s doubles match, is also under the microscope after mysterious betting patterns were discovered. That came after the hot favourites to win the game took the first set before subsequently losing the match.
A spokesperson for the ITIA confirmed that the two encounters in question are being looked into.
“Two alerts were provided to us from the betting industry indicating possible irregular betting patterns,” they said.
“It is important to note that an alert on its own is not evidence of match-fixing. Where analysis of a match alert does suggest corrupt activity, the ITIA conducts a full and confidential investigation.”
How are Irregular Betting Patterns Uncovered?
Tennis is a sport that is ripe for unscrupulous betting syndicates to have their way with.
The volatility from game to game and set to set enables wild betting swings to occur – and they do, naturally and without a hint of fraud, every day on the Betfair Exchange, where you can examine the amounts bet over a given timeframe.
Match fixing and suspicious betting patterns are more rife on the lower-tier tennis tours, and so it’s quite a surprise that Wimbledon – with its higher profile – has potentially fallen foul to a fix.
The ITIA was quick to point out that, so far, they have only received ‘alerts’ about the two matches in question. These are provided by betting firms to the agency, with traders having noted suspect timing of a wager or a disproportionately-sized bet compared to the rest of the market.
“These patterns could be large amounts of money being placed on outsiders, unusual bets placed from new accounts or patterns of similar bets that flag their integrity systems,” the ITIA has confirmed.
Their job is to then investigate these alerts and determine whether or not the punter(s) have simply acted on their own instinct, placing legitimate bets that simply flag up in the data, or whether foul play is afoot.
By way of context, eleven players have been charged with a variety of integrity-based offences in 2021 already.
Sofia Dmitrieva, Alija Merdeeva and Franco Feitt have been banned from professional tennis for life after serious match fixing breaches were discovered, while Roman Khassanov has been suspended from the sport for ten years.
Since the beginning of June alone, the ITIA has metered out sanctions to Carlos Andres Sepulveda (three year ban) plus temporary suspensions to six Moroccan players, three Belgians and the Argentine, Nicolas Arreche, while investigations into alleged match fixing are carried out.