Players quizzed as betting suspended on Australian Open game
Concerns over match fixing in a mixed doubles game at the Australian Open led to a suspension of betting and players being interviewed by the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU).
Online sports betting operator Pinnacle Sports told the New York Times newspaper that it had received an unusual spike in bets for Lukasz Kubot and Andrea Hlavackova to beat David Marrero and Lara Arruabarrena, causing it to suspend betting 13 hours before the pairs played on Sunday.
“We saw a small number of people placing a large amount of money,” Marco Blume, Pinnacle Sports’ head of sportsbook, told the newspaper.
“In context, these matches are rather small. That means that any aggressive betting behaviour is very easy to detect on our side.”
The New York Times reported that all four players had denied any involvement in fixing the game, with Kubot and Hlavackova, who won 6-0, 6-3, saying that the TIU had interviewed them.
Kubot told reporters he did not notice anything unusual, saying “we gave 100% in that match” and he believed his opponents “were trying 100%”.
Victoria police said they worked with Australian tennis officials throughout the tournament but would not confirm whether they had been alerted to the irregularities or were investigating this particular match.
The suspicious gambling activity comes with the sport already under intense international scrutiny over possible match fixing.
Last week, the BBC and BuzzFeed reported that 16 players were repeatedly flagged to authorities over suspicions that they had thrown matches, but added that officials did not discipline them.
Related article: BBC, Buzzfeed report uncovers suspected match-fixing in tennis