Tennis Betting Scandals: Should They Concern You?
Back in 2007, Nikolay Davydenko should have been one of the happiest tennis players around. He was ranked #4 in the world, and seemed ready to break through and win his first major at any time.
Unfortunately, there was another issue affecting Davydenko, one that had very little to do with his play. In August of that year, Davydenko faced off against the relatively unknown Martin Vassallo Arguello at the Poland Open.
Several bookmakers noted that there was an unusually high amount of money bet on the match, but at the start, there wasn’t enough evidence to be sure anything was particularly wrong, despite the fact that at one sportsbook, the odds had moved far enough to make Davydenko the underdog against his 87th-ranked opponent.
Davydenko nonetheless won the first set 6-2…and that’s when the really strange activity started to occur.
Suddenly, the odds on Davydenko got worse, not better. He was now an underdog of 4-1 or more at BetFair, something that made little sense to anyone other than the bettors in the marketplace. BetFair made the decision to void all bets because of the suspicious activity.
Sure enough, Arguello went on to win the second set 6-3, and was leading 2-1 in the 3rd before Davydenko retired due to an apparent foot injury.
To this day, it’s unclear whether Davydenko actually threw the match – a claim he denies – or whether some gamblers simply received inside information on an injury that was likely to hurt Davydenko’s chances.
While the events of that day certainly look suspicious, it’s worth noting that Davydenko hadn’t been playing well in the weeks leading up to that match, and he later claimed that the injury had been with him before the match – increasing the chances that word may have gotten out about it before or during the match. He even claimed that he told his wife (in Russian) that he might not be able to finish the match, and that it’s possible he was overheard.
Since that time, other information has come out, with allegations being thrown around about fixed matches in competitions as prestigious as Wimbledon and the French Open. Should these scandals affect your willingness to bet on professional tennis?
For the most part, the answer is no. While there are a lot of questions that have been raised, few allegations have been proven. Most of the newsworthy events peaked around 2007 and 2008, at which point the professional tennis tours and the organizers of Grand Slam events took a much harder line against potential match fixing and other appearances of player misconduct.
While it’s certain that something was going on in matches, it appears that in at least the majority of these cases, inside information was a much more likely explanation than out-and-out match fixing, particularly when it came to matches involving high-ranking players (who have a lot more to lose in prize money and endorsements than they have to gain from losing on purpose).
What to Do When Tennis Betting Looks Suspicious
That doesn’t mean you should ignore what happens when suspicious activity occurs, however. How exactly you choose to react to these occurrences it up to you. If you see a line that simply makes no sense, or one that is moving in what should be the wrong direction during a match, there are two sensible things to do:
1) Just stay away. There’s no shame in just getting out of the way of something that doesn’t appear to be on the level. There’s not much to say about this tactic; it’s pretty self-explanatory, and you’ll avoid getting caught up in any scandals or ending up on the wrong site of a suspicious match.
2) Try to take advantage. This is a little trickier, but it’s sometimes possible to take advantage of betting patterns that simply don’t add up. If all of the money is diving hard away from a favorite, chances are that somebody knows something about an injury, a lack of motivation, or in very rare cases, a potential fix. You can choose to bet on the player who has all the money on them, assuming that that’s where the smart money is going.
If you’re really slick when it comes to picking up on these situations, you may even be able to get money in on both sides – on the underdog, before the lines gets too short on them, and on the pre-match favorite after they’ve suddenly been given long odds to win. As always, being able to lock in an assured profit is always a good thing!
Remember, though, that these suspicious matches are few and far between, and they shouldn’t scare you from betting on tennis in general. Given the amount of tennis wagering that goes on, and the huge number of professional matches played each year, these scandals represent a tiny minority of matches played. If you want to, you can safely stay away from any match that looks even the least bit suspicious and still find plenty of good, safe spots for making good tennis bets.