Tennis players throw their matches when “they can’t play their best”

As new details emerge about strange betting patterns around a mixed doubles match in the ongoing  Australian Open, an Australian professional tennis player, Nick Lindahl (of Swedish birth) pleads guilty to corrupt betting and admits in court that he threw a match for gains to be made by betting for his opponent to win.

But some of what he revealed perhaps throws light on when top players throw matches – either directly for payment or for indirect gains from bets placed against their opponents.

First the report on the current match in the Australian Open. The statements attributed to David Marrero are more than a little weird and he has apparently been involved before with “suspicious matches”.

Yahoo SportsHow bold would a player have to be to fix a match in the middle of a match-fixing scandal? That’s the question buzzing around the Australian Open on Monday, where a suspicious mixed doubles match has reignited the match-fixing controversy that has surrounded the tournament since a joint Buzzfeed/BBC report was released last Sunday

The suspicion started when betting site Pinnacle Sports suspended betting on the match featuring Lara Arruabarrena and David Marrero against Andrea Hlavackova and Lukasz Kubot. Large amounts of money were being placed on Kubot and Klavackova in what would normally be an obscure match, the head of the site told the New York Times

“We saw a small number of people placing a large amount of money,” he said. “In context, these matches are rather small. That means that any aggressive betting behavior is very easy to detect on our side.”

This is the first Australian Open match that Pinnacle Sports has flagged this year. Hlavackoba and Kubot won in rapid fashion, closing out the match at 6-0, 6-3. 

Arruabarrena and Marrero are each ranked No. 33 and No. 32 among doubles players on the women’s and men’s tours, respectively. Marrero was part of the team that won the 2013 ATP World Tour championship. They denied any match-fixing, saying that the reason for their unexpected loss was that Marrero has a knee injury. Then Marrero, who has played nearly 30 mixed doubles matches, gave a more bizarre answer.

“Normally, when I play, I play full power, in doubles or singles,” he said. “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.”

Arruabarrena questioned if a spectator had noticed the injury during their Saturday practice session and subsequently tipped someone off. The Times noted that this is not the first time a Marrero doubles match has raised suspicions

In the meantime, the SMH reports on Nick Lindahl’s shenanigans:

A former Australian professional tennis player has pleaded guilty in a Sydney court to a corrupt betting charge in a scheme to fix a match in Queensland. But Nick Lukas Lindahl will fight the allegation he tried to hide evidence related to match fixing.   

Lindahl, 27, was arrested by the NSW Organised Crime Squad at Liberty Grove, in Sydney’s inner west, in February last year.

His court appearance comes just days after allegations of widespread match fixing rocked the international tennis world on the eve of the Australian Open. …….

During this conversation, Lindahl was heard encouraging Mr Fox to get rid of computer data and a mobile phone app, police allege.

“Just get rid of everything … hide it,” he said.

He also spoke about how he had previously told police he had thrown matches “because that’s what tennis players do when they can’t play their best”.

Mr Fox and Mr Wolfenden have already had their matters heard before court.

Lindahl has pleaded guilty to using corrupt conduct /information to bet on an event but pleaded not guilty to concealing conduct that corrupts a betting outcome of events.

It makes a kind of sense. Players expected to win but who are either feeling out of sorts or don’t expect to progress sufficiently far to win any real prize money, have much money to win by losing unexpectedly. That of course will be one of the key criteria for a “suspicious” match. And from now on, I shall be automatically suspicious of any unexpected loss early on in a tournament.

Related: Why did Tennis Australia board members quit on eve of Australian Open?


Tags: , , ,

%d bloggers like this: