Match-fixing controversy was a rather grim scenario when last Sunday saw a large amount of money betting on an obscure mixed doubles match at the Australian Open. One of the players was David Marrero from Spain, who was previously ‘on a blacklist of suspicious players’ before he came out to play in this year’s first Grand Slam in Melbourne Park.
The whole allegation started when a prime gambling website, Pinnacle Sports, suspended betting on the mixed doubles match. It was a first round match between Spain’s David Marrero and Lara Arruabarrena playing against Andrea Hlavackova of Czech Republic and Lukasz Kubot of Poland. The match on Court 6 was not important really except that huge amount of money was involved.
According to Marco Blume, head of sportsbook at Pinnacle Sports majority of the money went in favour of Hlavackova and Kubot, which could indicate that a match-fixing might just be involved.
Hlavackova and Kubot won the match 6-0 6-3.
Match-fixing controversy is currently at the peak even before the start of the Australian Open. According to a report, a joint venture between BBC and Buzzfeed produced reports that flagged 16 players as suspects over match-fixing.
While the Australian Open tournament got tennis community engrossed in the matches, a fresh allegation has stirred the controversy yet again.
Mr. Blume believes that Marrero’s match was fixed as the betting on it stopped 13 hours prior to the match. And, Marrero’s opponents went on to win it with ease. He went on to notify the Victorian Police about the disparity.
The Police affirmed that they are constantly working with the Australian Tennis officials but refused to make any comments regarding the alleged match.
However, a spokeswoman for the International Tennis Federation, the main body that looks after the four Grand Slams, stated that the Federation has not received any complain in this regard. She further added that information of such will go directly to Tennis Integrity Unit first.
Meanwhile, John Eren, Minister of Sports for Victoria said, “The law enforcement agencies are watching this area very closely. Of course we’ve seen it in many different sports, not just tennis. And that’s really sad because at the end of the day, 99.9 percent of the sport-loving community don’t behave in that way. It’s important to stamp these out very quickly, and I’m hoping that the relevant authorities will act quickly and swiftly to deal with some of these matters.”
What actually happened that aroused such suspicion? Mr. Blume said, “We saw a small number of people placing a large amount of money. In context, these matches are rather small. That means that any aggressive betting behavior is very easy to detect on our side.”
This was the first time he has seen such a drastic betting on any match in this year’s Australian Open. Also, this match initiated a hyped up gambling action that saw $25,000 gambled on another betting website, BetFair, few hours prior to the match. In fact, the other three doubles match during that time raised less than $2000 combined.
Mr. Blume further added that the betting started much earlier on Thursday. Hlavackova and Kubot were the favourites, but by Saturday morning, too many amount of money started to rain in. This caused Pinnacle to change its betting odd to target betting on Marrero and Arruabarrena instead. In addition, Pinnacle decreased the highest betting amount of $500 to $100. Despite such actions by Pinnacle, the betting didn’t stop. In fact, nine minutes after decreasing the betting amount, the traders arrested on betting altogether.
Both Arruabarrena and Marrero denied any involvement in match-fixing. In an after match interview, when asked why his performance deteriorated, he blamed his knee injury for it. He also added, “Normally, when I play, I play full power, in doubles or singles. But when I see the lady in front of me, I feel my hand wants to play, but my head says, ‘Be careful.’ This is not a good combination.”
The doubles partners also said that they have not shared about the injury with anyone yet.
“I am professional,” Marrero said. “I try to make my best tennis on the court. If you see all my matches, I don’t like to pull out of tournaments.”