Italian tennis rocked by a new match fixing scandal - UBITENNIS
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Italian tennis rocked by a new match fixing scandal

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TENNIS – Revelations made by La Gazzetta Dello Sport send Italian tennis in shock. There are many players involved, but the two main targets of the investigation seem to be Daniele Bracciali and Potito Starace. The investigation is ongoing, but the public prosecutor has confirmed that the conversations are authentic.

 

The investigation by the public prosecutor’s office of Cremona (a town less than 100 km away from Milan) that started in 2011 on match fixing in football matches has progressed and the analysis of the computers owned by the people investigated have revealed more than 100 names of various sports who are involved in the inquiry. Among these names there are two tennis players, Daniele Bracciali and Potito Starace, who have allegedly thrown matches to order. The two players, who have played for Italy in the Davis Cup, also mention other players like Simone Bolelli, Andreas Seppi, Filippo Volandri, Giorgio Galimberti and Federico Liuzzi.

In a Skype chat of 2007 Bracciali and Bruni (a key member of the betting syndicate investigated) they discuss explicitly of fixing the result of the match at Newport between the Italian player and Scoville Jenkins. Bracciali isn’t convinced he can arrange the deal as he does not know Jenkins, but they discuss the cost of his match fixing. Jenkins won that match 6-1, 6-2.

Another match under scrutiny is the final of the 2011 Casablanca tournament between Starace and Andujar that was won by the Spaniard 6-1, 6-2. In a conversation recorded before the match, the owner of a betting agency, Massimo Erodiani, talks to a someone identified as Corradino about the Italian player. The owner of the agency aims that Starace has given a cheque to guarantee his bet and they also talk about Montanes doing the same the previous day in the semifinals earning 1.5 million euro.

In another chat Bracciali discusses approaching other players including Simone Bolelli, but that failed as Bolelli’s coach at the time, Claudio Pistolesi, would not agree. The investigation will proceed in the next months and other sports like basketball appear to be involved. At the moment there is nothing official from the prosecutor’s office apart from a confirmation that the conversations published by the newspapers are true. Asked if other non-Italian players are involved, Roberto Di Martino, the prosecutor leading the inquiry, said “I can’t rule that out, but I can’t say anything”.

Below is a picture of the conversations pubblished by the Gazzetta Dello Sport, in Italian.

bracciali-skype-gazza

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Anett Kontaveit fends off two match points to win a hard–fought match against Ekaterina Alexandrova

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This year’s Palermo finalist Anett Kontaveit came back from a double break down  in the third set and faced two match points in the decisive third set to battle past Ekaterina Alexandrova 4-6 6-2 7-6 (8-6) in the first round at J&T Banka Ostrava Open. 

 

Alexandrova has won 33 of her past 39 indoor matches in the last two seasons since October 2018. The Russian player was leading 5-2 in the third set and 6-4 in the tie-break and served for the match three times. 

Alexandrova earned the first break point of the match in the third game with her backhand and converted it as Kontaveit sent her forehand into the net. Alexandrova came to within two points of taking a double break for 4-1, but Kontaveit hit two forehands to hold her service game. Kontaveit broke back at love in the sixth game and held serve to take a 4-3 lead. Alexandrova broke again in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead and converted her second set point in the 10th game with a forehand wiiner. 

In the first game of the second set Alexandrova came close to converting her fourth break point with a crosscourt forehand, but a Hawkeye overrule that it had barely missed clipping the line. Kontaveit held her serve with two service winners. The 24-year-old Estonian player broke serve with a forehand winner to open up a 2-0 lead. Alexandova broke straight back in the third game. Kontaveit broke twice in the fourth and eighth games to seal the second set 6-2 with a lob. 

Alexandrova started the third set with an early break at deuce with a forehand winner down the line. The Russian player won nine consecutive points to get a double break for 4-1 with two consecutive forehand winners. At 5-2 Alexandrova wasted her first chance to serve out the win after a double fault and dropped her serve. Kontaveit pulled her second break back in the 10th game to draw level to 5-5 with a forehand. Alexandrova broke again with her forehand in the 11th game to take a 6-5 lead. Kontaveit broke back with a backhand return winner forcing the second set to the tie-break. Kontaveit saved two match points after Alexandrova netted her forehand on the first chance and Kontaveit hit a backhand winner on the second. Kontaveit converted her first match point with a forehand volley to set up a second round match against either Magda Linette or a qualifier. 

“I was so close to being out, so I just tried to stay in the match. I never really gave up. I tried to be a little more aggressive, when I was down. I felt maybe I had taken a little bit off my shots”, said Kontaveit. 

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COVID-19 Mayhem: Fabio Fognini Out Of Sardinia As Sam Querrey Flees Russia To Escape Local Health Authorities

One top tennis star has been withdrawn from his event whilst another is being investigated for serious breaches of COVID-19 rules after reportedly flying to another country.

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The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause problems in the world of tennis with the top seed of the Forte Village Sardegna Open being forced to withdraw.

 

Fabio Fognini has moved into isolation after a routine test confirmed that he has contracted the virus. The positive result was announced on Wednesday via a statement issued by the ATP. The world No.16 is currently experiencing mild symptoms and is being monitored by the Tournament Physician and ATP medical team.

“Guys, I have to tell you that this morning I tested positive for Covid-19,” the 33-year-old wrote on Instagram in Italian. “The symptoms are very mild, a little cough and fever, headache … but unfortunately this bad news has arrived.
“I’m already in isolation and I’m convinced that I will recover very soon..”

A contact tracing process is also underway to identify anybody who may have come into contact with Fognini recently. Yesterday he participated in a doubles match in Sardinia along with rising star Lorenzo Musetti who reached the third round of the Italian Masters in August. Musetti is due to play his second round match against Andrea Pellegrino on Thursday morning.

“All the people with whom Fognini was in direct contact were placed in preventive isolation and subjected to new swabs,” the Italian Tennis Federation said in a statement to Reuters.

Fognini was the only top 20 player in the field for the inaugural event which is held on outdoor clay courts. He has been replaced in the draw by Serbian lucky loser Danilo Petrović who defeated Roberto Carbellas Baena 6-1, 6-4, earlier in the day.

‘Serious Breach’ under investigation in Russia

Sam Querrey

In another development it has been confirmed that the ATP is investigating a player who has reportedly broken COVID-19 protocols at the St Petersburg Open. An ATP 500 event that is featuring five players currently ranked in the world’s top 20. The governing body of men’s tennis hasn’t named the player but said in a statement they are ‘taking this matter extremely seriously.’

“The ATP is aware of an incident regarding a player’s serious breach of protocol relating to COVID-19 at this week’s St. Petersburg Open. Adhering to health and safety protocols is critical to ensure that events take place safely and within guidelines established by local authorities,” the statement reads.
“Players and their support team members are reminded that breaches of protocol can jeopardise an event’s ability to operate and have repercussions for the rest of the Tour. In accordance with the ATP’s Code of Conduct, we are taking this matter extremely seriously and an investigation is underway.”

On Monday it was confirmed that an unnamed player has been withdrawn from the tournament after testing positive for COVID-19. Whilst there was no official confirmation, the only player to withdraw from the draw due to illness was America’s Sam Querrey. New York Times journalist Ben Rothenberg has also reported that Querrey’s wife and baby son has also tested positive.

According to Rothenberg, the Querrey family was told to self-isolate for 14 days in a St. Petersburg hotel but was then told they would be visited by a doctor who could hospitalise them if they were found to have symptoms. Concerned about the latest development and the risk of being separated from their child, the family has fled Russia via private plane to an unnamed European country where they are staying in an AirBNB. A move that is classed as a serious breach of COVID-19 protocols.

There has been no public comment from Querrey and he is said to be keeping his current location secret.

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Goran Ivanisevic Under Fire Over French Open Comment Involving Djokovic And Nadal

The former Wimbledon champion told Sport Klub ‘he said what he felt.’

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Two members of Rafael Nadal’s team have implied a recent statement said by one of Novak Djokovic’s coaches placed too much pressure on him ahead of the French Open final.

 

Goran Ivanisevic spoke with Croatian broadcaster Hrvatska radiotelevizija (HRT) last week in which he labelled Djokovic as the overwhelming favourite heading into the French Open final after saying ‘Nadal has no chance under these conditions.’ He was alluding to the cooler temperature due to the time of the year the tournament was taking place. However, the prediction turned out to be completely incorrect with the Spaniard prevailing 6-0, 6-2, 7-5, to win his 13th title at Roland Garros. Inflicting Djokovic with one of his heaviest ever losses in a grand slam final.

Ivanisevic’s comment has been partly criticised by Carlos Moya, who is one of Nadal’s coaches. Speaking to radio station Cadena SER, the 1998 French Open champion said he would have made no such comment about his player ahead of a Grand Slam final.

I know Ivanisevic and I understand that it is the role he has to play. Nobody would have said anything similar from Rafa’s team, I think it is something that puts pressure on our player,” he said.

The radio station has also quoted Toni Nadal as giving the view that ‘he would not have done’ the same as what Ivanisevic did. Toni was the former coach of the world No.2 who first introduced him to the sport as a child. In an article written for El Pais on October 12th, he went on to criticise the player-turned-coach.

“Ivanisevic, in another of his great predictions, said that his player was fully prepared both tactically and mentally for this final. The reality is that this final showed that it wasn’t like that after all. It surprises me that a champion like him often falls into a sequence of negative gestures and messages,” he wrote.

Reflecting on his comment, Ivanisevic admits that he was being a bit too ‘ambitious’ with what he said. At the time Djokovic had a win-loss record of 37-1 on the Tour with his only loss being a disqualification from the US Open after accidentally hitting a lineswoman with a ball. He has already won five titles on the Tour this season, including the ATP Cup.

“I have honestly meant what I said, my right is to say what I think and believe in my player, I thought this was Novak’s year in Paris. Again, I was a bit ambitious saying Nadal did not stand a chance, but I favoured Novak at that moment. I always state my opinion directly, however, it did not turn out that way, he told Sport Klub.
“In Melbourne I stated that the odds were 50-50 and Novak ended up destroying Rafa. It is always easy to play it safe and just say ‘we will see’ or ‘the winner is going to be the better player on the given day’,’ but I said what I felt.”

Djokovic has been working with Ivanisevic since summer 2019. Besides enjoying a successful career as a player, the Croat has also worked with the likes of Marin Cilic, Milos Raonic and Tomas Berdych.

Djokovic will return to action later this month at the Vienna Open in Austria but it is undecided if he will be accompanied by his Croatian mentor or Marian Vajda. Ivanisevic has confirmed that plans are being drawn up but a final decision is yet to be reached.

“We haven’t made a plan yet. Vienna we will play, and I don’t know what will happen with Paris and how much it pays to play because he doesn’t lose points,” Ivanisevic outlined.
“Marjan and I will share, we will agree, and Novak will surely rest this week and will fulfil some obligations towards sponsors. After that, preparations for Vienna and London begin.“

The Vienna Open will start on October 26th.

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