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.
Sachin Tendulkar: The 100 percent man.
What he said:
“I think whatever things I knew 100 per cent I have revealed because I back up those things. But the things I am not aware of fully, it would be unwise to comment on those.”
Sachin Tendulkar refused to address match-fixing controversies in his much-awaited memoirs, ‘Playing It My Way’.
The Little Master clarified:
“I should have some evidence, I should know something in detail to talk about it because then it makes sense and it will be appreciated by people. But if I just start talking then it will not have any value.”
Mohammad Azharuddin, Ajay Jadeja and Nayan Mongia were summarily punished by the BCCI with bans of varying durations in the aftermath of the match-fixing scandal in the 90s.
Asked whether some players deliberately performed:
“No, I mean the guys fail, but who doesn’t fail in life, everyone fails. It would be unfair to just pinpoint at someone and say that he was under-performing, didn’t try his best, I can’t. I have played the sport for 24 years and failures do happen.”
On why he never took a stand on major issues:
“If you see in my book, issues on which people believed I should have taken a stand, the only things which I was 100 per cent sure of I stood for that in my book.
If you have read some of the articles I have expressed myself whole-heartedly but on things which were not first-hand information, it is unwise to do that, it is (like) a loose statement and I didn’t want to fire loose statements.”
“Difficult, because there were times I felt like talking. I felt like I should focus on my game because one article would be followed by another article and I didn’t want to get into that tangle. It was always wiser, I thought, that I follow up with bigger scores rather than better articles.”
On Ian Chappell’s comment that `Sachin should look at himself in the mirror‘:
“I don’t think much about him. I showed him the size of the mirror in the VB Series in 2007. He has got nothing do with Indian cricket. Sometimes I feel people are given too much importance.
I don’t want his sorry . But in Durban, in 2010, when I was working out in the gym, we just bumped into each other and he said, `This is the secret of your success.’ I said, `You have conveniently changed sides.’ “
What Tendulkar really meant:
“In life, unlike on the batting pitch, I have to be on a strong ton before I start playing my shots.”
What he definitely didn’t:
“See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.”