Are tennis players cheats?
An expose by BuzzFeed and the BBC would have us believe so.
An investigation into a match allegedly tanked by Nikolay Davydenko in 2007 against a lower-ranked Argentine opponent, Martin Vassallo Arguello,
uncovered a series of anomalies in games lost by top-ranked players in both men and women’s tennis.
Eight of the top-50 men’s players at the Australian Open are under the scanner.
In the past, match-fixing was felt to be restricted to the lower echelons of the tennis hierarchy where journeymen lost games in exchange for cash which they could hardly hope to see in their journeymen careers.
But now, the scourge of cheating appears to have spread its tentacles all over the pristine sport.
Novak Djokovic—amongst other players—disclosed that he was approached in 2007 but he refused. Roger Federer and Serena Williams have called for names to be revealed.
The investigating team indicts gambling chains across countries such as Russia and Spain. But they have no real luck pinpointing guilty players as they had neither the authority nor permission to access players’ phone and bank records.
There exists no definitive proof of collusion with punters and guilty players can continue to bluster their way through this crisis.
It is up to the tennis authorities to ensure more transparency in the way the game is played.
Perhaps, it would help if more lower-ranked players were able to earn a living from the game. This view is opposed by Federer again who feels that cheats exist at every level and increasing prize money at lower rungs is not the solution.
Whatever the outcome of these new revelations, it is certain that upsets will be looked upon with suspicion in the future and not simply considered a glorious uncertainty of sport.
It’s a pity, really, because everyone loves an underdog.
Players have been calling for a reduction in the number of tournaments they participate in a season. They claim that the unrelenting touring takes a toll on mind, body and spirit and they are unable to be consistent and motivated enough throughout the arduous season.
The authorities would do well to look into these complaints but the players do themselves no favours by opting to partake of the bounties of exhibition games in their off-season.
Greed certainly greases the wheels, one way or the other.