The tennis world was rocked by a BBC and Buzzfeed report citing widespread point and match tanking by top ranked tennis players.
Novak Djokovic sits atop the ATP Men’s Tennis rankings so he understands how perilous his standing is above the rest of the game of tennis. At any time, just one slip could see him fall in the standings where other predominant players like Andy Murray and Roger Federer are ready to make the climb to the top.
But what happens when that entire base starts shaking and everyone falls with it?
That is precisely the issue the business of professional tennis is facing on Monday morning, after a joint report was released by the BBC and Buzzfeed citing widespread gambling and match fixing. According to the report, the fixing reaches far and wide, from points to sets to entire matches, and includes some of the top players in the game, both men and women.
Here are the list of potential issues, as noted by Buzzfeed:
"Winners of singles and doubles titles at Grand Slam tournaments are among the core group of 16 players who have repeatedly been reported for losing games when highly suspicious bets have been placed against them.One top-50 player competing in the Australian Open is suspected of repeatedly fixing his first set.Players are being targeted in hotel rooms at major tournaments and offered $50,000 or more per fix by corrupt gamblers.Gambling syndicates in Russia and Italy have made hundreds of thousands of pounds placing highly suspicious bets on scores of matches – including at Wimbledon and the French Open.The names of more than 70 players appear on nine leaked lists of suspected fixers who have been flagged up to the tennis authorities over the past decade without being sanctioned."
While the report cites just two names, Russian player Nikolay Davydenko and Martin Vassallo Arguello of Argentina, the scandal seemed to strike enough of a nerve that some bigger names are stepping forward and admitting that they too have been approached about potentially fixing their matches.
Novak Djokovic is one of those players. Djokovic was one of just a few players who admitted to having been approached to throw a match, telling ESPN that he was offered $200,000 to drop a first round match in St. Petersburg. Djokovic not only refused to comply, but he did not even participate in the event so as to not be connected with a scandal.
"“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.”"
Djokovic seems to have kept himself away from the scandal itself, but until names come forward, we won’t be 100% sure of how far reaching the fixing went. With the Australian Open getting ready to commence on Monday, there will undoubtedly be a lot of discussion of the matter in the days to come, not to mention a more scrutinizing eye.