The Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) is reporting that they were alerted of a large number of tennis matches that were potentially fixed in the first few months of the year. The Tennis Integrity Unit is based out of London, and they commonly receive threats about match-fixing in the sport.
There was a large increase in the number of alerts that came in over the last few months due to the pending coronavirus pandemic. People in the tennis sports betting industry were able to predict that a major shutdown was about to occur, and they were trying to cash in.
The Tennis Integrity Unit received 38 alerts from reputable sportsbooks from Jan. 1 until March 22. Last year during the same time period, the TIU received just 21 alerts from a sportsbook, and the impending coronavirus pandemic was cited as the number one reason for the increase.
All of the matches came from lower-level tennis tournaments, which is common for corruptors to target these kinds of matches.
The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) announced on March 18 that they were suspending their events through June 8. That suspension has now been extended, and these two organizations will not host any events until at least July 13.
Wimbledon, the most prestigious tennis tournament in the world, has been canceled, and the entire grass-court season has also been canceled. This is the first time that Wimbledon has been canceled since 1945, when World War II wiped out the tournament.
Six of these alerts did occur on the ATP Challenge Tour, which is the second-biggest men’s tennis organization. No alerts were submitted for matches taking place in the ATP, WTA, or Davis or Fed Cup matches.
The Tennis Integrity Unit was quick to point out that while they did receive a large number of alerts, that doesn’t mean that any match fixing did occur.
Common For Alerts
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) was the tour that saw the most alerts generated. Thirty-two matches from the ITF were alerted to the Tennis Integrity Unit, and several of those matches are now under investigation.
The ITF is a feeder organization for the major tennis associations, and they are normally a target for bettors looking to corrupt the sport.
Tennis is not a very popular sport to bet on in the United States, but that is not the case in the rest of the world. Tennis is the third-most wagered sport in the world, and tennis events take place on more than 300 days per year.
Corrupters routinely target opening-round matches of various tournaments to fix the match. Tennis betting experts estimate that there are close to two-dozen ATP or WTA first-round matches fixed each year.
Sportsbooks are careful about the odds that they post on these events due to the chance that they could be fixed.
Last March, there was a huge investigation into almost 140 tennis players in a match-fixing scandal. The probe revealed that players were working with “The Maestro,” who is one of the most well-known corruptors in the sport of tennis.
Grigor Sargasyn of Armenia is known as “The Maestro,” and his arrest in June 2018 led to the massive investigation. One hundred thirty-seven tennis players became suspects during the investigation, and the players came from a dozen different countries.
Seven tennis players from France were detained by police in the sting operation, and that came after another dozen were pulled in for questioning. It is unclear who is behind the match-fixing alerts this time around.