2016 Australian Open, is Professional Tennis Losing its Integrity?

betting on tennisBetting on tennis has been a part of the game for many years and was no different during the 2016 Australian Open. Unfortunately, not all of the attention was grabbed by the winners of the event, Novak Djokovic in men’s singles and Angelique Kerber for the women’s singles. The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), which oversees the game of tennis, is trying to answer to accusations of players fixing matches.

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Buzz Feed News and the BBC published an investigation which in part outlines that a core of players has been accused of rigging their matches. No player’s names were brought up but the number suspected was noted as 16 players. Chris Kermode chairs the ATP and made a point to state that the matter is getting investigated, despite the reports that allege that the ATP is not in a hurry to address the issue.

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The lack of names provided by the report does allow one to question the validity. The reporters were not able to obtain phone records, e-mails, or bank statements to validate the claim. Yet, one has to believe something is amiss since two international tennis umpires were temporarily banned, while four others were thrown out of the sport of tennis due to corruption. Many believe the issue is due in part to the differences in prize money that is allotted. For example, the world’s top player Novak Djokovic brought home 21 million dollars in 2015, but the world’s 100th rank player, Israel’s Dudi Sela earned a mere $315,000. In addition, the lower professional tennis leagues such as the Futures and Challenger tour awards prize money substantially less, which one can argue could contribute to unsavory behavior.

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) signed off on a multi-million-dollar deal with data company Sportradar which provides the tennis fan with a number of statistical categories to follow on. The data can be used as a tool for those that partake in tennis betting. One has statistical data available for even the less publicized tennis matches and tournaments. Perhaps some of the proceeds from the $14 million deal with Sportradar ought to be used to further investigate tennis players tanking matches. Those that bet on tennis have a number of ways to wager on the sport. One can bet on something as simple as the results of each individual set in a match, or drilled down to specifics, such as the number of tiebreaks in a given match or will the total number of games played in a set be an odd number or an even one.

A lot of money is at stake, and betting is even more prevalent since one can place a wager on a tennis match by simply choosing a sports betting agency online. Since a tennis match involves just two players in a singles match or four in a doubles, it is a lot easier to influence the outcome than in a team sport like soccer or football. Those governing tennis need to investigate sooner than later in order to protect the integrity of the sport.