The sports gambling website Pinnacle Sports took down Sunday's mixed doubles match between Lara Arruabarrena and David Marrero and Andrea Hlavackova and Lukasz Kubot because of suspicious activity.
In an interview with Ben Rothenberg and James Glanz of the New York Times, Marco Blume, who runs the sportsbook at Pinnacle Sports, confirmed the website grew concerned about potential match fixing. Nearly all of the money went toward betting on Hlavackova and Kubot, who won the match, 6-0, 6-3.
"We saw a small number of people placing a large amount of money," Blume said. "In context, these matches are rather small. That means that any aggressive betting behavior is very easy to detect on our side."
Blume did not indicate how much money was wagered on the match before the site took it off the board. However, more than $25,000 was bet on the match at Betfair, another gambling site, per Rothenberg and Glanz. The other three mixed doubles matches on the schedule Sunday generated less than $2,000 in wagers combined, they reported.
The news comes a week after the tennis world was rocked by a BBC and BuzzFeed News report that exposed evidence of potentially widespread match-fixing at the top levels of the sport.
Sixteen players who were ranked in the top 50 over the last 10 years have been investigated for allegedly throwing matches. Investigators were unable to find any wrongdoing in most cases, but the report alone exposed a seedy underbelly in tennis that rarely gets discussed.
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic admitted someone tried to offer him roughly $200,000 to throw a match early in his career.
"It made me feel terrible because I don't want to be anyhow linked to this kind of you know, somebody may call it an opportunity," Djokovic said, per Jim Caple of ESPN.com. "For me, that's an act of unsportsmanship, a crime in sport honestly. I don't support it. I think there is no room for it in any sport, especially in tennis."
If Sunday's match is found to have been fixed, it'll be a huge black eye on one of tennis' biggest stages. While mixed doubles doesn't receive an ounce of the coverage that singles play does, it would be naive to think these offers are a one-time occurrence.
Match fixing will be a part of tennis for as long as sports gambling exists; there are too many fledgling players who see a quick payday and take advantage. It's up to the tennis community to do a better job of policing suspicious activity and being more transparent about its findings.
For now, the International Tennis Federation says it has not received any notification of suspicious activity, per Rothenberg and Glanz. The Tennis Integrity Unit would be the first to investigate the matter if the suspicions prove founded.
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