The whispers getting louder...again.
Charles Happell reports the following:
The spectre of the dreaded "m" word -- match-fixing -- continues to linger over tennis following an extraordinary round-one match in the Monte Carlo Masters this week.
The ATP match in question -- which has been the subject of vigorous debate and speculation on online tennis betting forums -- was played between Argentina’s Martin Vassallo Arguello and Russia’s Igor Andreev on Tuesday.
During the match, the unusual flow of money for Vassallo Arguello, ranked No.69 in the world, meant he was rated as the favourite even after he had lost the first set, 6-2, to the 21st-ranked Russian.
Andreev opened as a $1.35 favourite on Betfair, the online betting exchange, and around $1.33, or 1/3 in the old terminology, with bookies around the world. Many handicappers had Adreev over the odds to dispose of his opponent -- yet money poured in late for the Argentinean.
Despite winning the first set convincingly, Andreev’s odds on Betfair were listed at $2.10, or 10/9, an unbelievable price considering he was the higher-ranked player and had already gone one set ahead.
The second set started with Vassallo Arguello getting an early break to go up 2-0, but Andreev -- in defiance of the betting trends -- got the upper hand to such an extent that he served for the match at 5-4 and 40-0. With three match points on his serve, Andreev seemingly had the match in the bag.
At this point, Betfair was betting $25.0 or $26.0 on Vassallo Arguello -- in layman’s terms, that means the Argentine was available at 25/1 and there were takers at this price even though realistically, in such a dire predicament, he should have been at 250/1 or longer.
But Vassallo Arguello staged a magnificent comeback to stave off those three match points and force the set into a tie-breaker. Andreev served two double-faults in the tie-breaker but still found himself serving with a 5-4 lead. He lost the next three points, however, and the set.
In the third set, Vassallo Arguello barely raised a sweat in clinching it, 6-2, and the match.
Betfair has paid out on this week’s Monte Carlo result. There may be an innocent explanation for the betting trends, and perhaps the result was no more than a neat coincidence. But one wonders what the ATP made of it, and whether their crack anti-corruption squad will swing into action any time soon.
One fansite is reporting rumors about other matches as well but there are no links.