Spanish Players Verdasco, Marrero Caught Up In Match-Fixing Scandal At Wimbledon - UBITENNIS
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Spanish Players Verdasco, Marrero Caught Up In Match-Fixing Scandal At Wimbledon

The 2013 ATP World Tour Finals Champions have issued statements following suspicions they deliberately corrupted their own match at the The All England Club.

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David Marrero (R) and Fernando Verdasco of Spain (zimbio.com)

An investigation has been launched by the Tennis Integrity Unit into a Wimbledon men’s doubles match concerning two Spanish players.

Former world No.7 Fernando Verdasco and his partner David Marrero have been contacted by the sports anti-corruption agency concerning their loss in the first round. Last week, ABC Australia confirmed that a match has been reported to authorities without naming the players. It was done so after bookmaker Pinnacle Sports spotted ‘irregular betting patterns.’ The New York Times later became one of the first publications to link Verdasco and Marrero to the case.

“We followed our strict protocol when it comes (to) match-fixing alerts by notifying the authorities on site at Wimbledon and reducing our market offering immediately,” Pinnacle manager Sam Gomersall was quoted as saying by ABC News.

Pinnacle Sports suspicions were raised when they noticed that bets placed on the match was being done from accounts that had a history of wagers on suspicious matches. Verdasco and Marrero lost the match 7-6 (8-6), 6-4, 6-7 (7-9), 6-1 to Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer and Portugal’s Joao Sousa.

Both players have now spoken out about the allegations for the first time. Denying any wrongdoing. 38-year-old Marrero, who is a former world No.5 doubles players, told the EFE news agency that he was ‘surprised’ that he was under investigation.

“I was at home packing my suitcase because tomorrow, Friday, I’m heading to Germany, and this news caught me by surprise. I had no idea. What do want me to say? Just like always, go ahead and investigate because I’m very much at ease,” He said on Thursday.

Later that same day, Verdasco took to social media to protest his innocence. Stating that he would ‘never compromise’ the integrity of the sport.

A murky history

It is not the first time that Marrero has been under investigation. During 2016 bets was suspended on a mixed doubles clash involving him and Lara Arruabarrena at the Australian Open. They lost their match 6-3, 6-0 to Andrea Hlavackova and Lukasz Kubot. Both players had their phones examined by the TIU before they were later cleared of match-fixing.

During that same year Verdasco was forced to deny that he was involved in match-fixing after the media questioned him about a series of suspicious matches. Including the first round of the 2015 US Open where there was changes in the odds to suggest a heavy bet being made against him. Verdasco defeated Tommy Haas 3-6, 6-1, 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-1.

“There is many things that they said about someone,” he told reporters in January 2016.
“You know, at the end we know that all that is out there and we will fight to change that. But it is hard, no? At the end there is many people in this world, and is impossible to control everyone. But we are trying – if it was up to me, I would take out the betting. But I can’t. I don’t have that power. We are trying to fight against that. I cannot really say anything more. Like I said, it’s tough to control what everybody says.”

The fight continues

Earlier this year a long-awaited report by the Independent Review Panel concluded that there was a ‘Tsunami’ of corruption in lower level events. But found no evidence of a cover-up by the sports governing bodies. Between 2009-2017 they concluded that 83% of suspicious matches involved the men’s tour.

The issue continues to be a problem in the world of tennis. The ESSA (Sports Betting Integrity) reported that they have flagged 27 suspicious matches during the first quarter of 2018. More than double compared to any other sport.

In June, former world No.78 Nicolas Kicker was handed a six-year ban (of which three years are suspended) for match-fixing offences in what was one of the most high-profile cases of recent years. He was also found guilty of failing to co-operate with the relevant authorities.

Ubitennis has contacted Pinnacle Sports, who flagged up the Verdasco and Marrero match. When asked if they have identified any other suspicious matches at this year’s Wimbledon Championships, they declined to give a comment.

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Hubert Hurkacz Undergoes ‘Knee Procedure’ Ahead of Olympic Bid

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Poland’s top player on the ATP Tour is not giving up on his dream of winning a medal at the Olympic Games despite recently undergoing a medical procedure.

World No.7 Hubert Hurkacz suffered a knee injury during his second round clash at Wimbledon against France’s Arthur Fils. In the fourth set tiebreak of their clash, Hurkacz dived for a shot but landed badly on his knee and required on-court medical attention. He then played two more points before retiring from the match. 

In a social media post published on Wednesday, the  27-year-old confirmed he underwent a procedure on his knee earlier this week but didn’t provide any further details.  Although Hurkacz has stated his intention to play at the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris, where the tennis event will be held on the clay at Roland Garros. 

“I had a knee procedure this Monday, but I’m feeling better already and my team and are dedicating extensive time each day to the rehab process.” He wrote on Instagram. 

“It’s a dream for every athlete to represent their country at the Olympics, and I want to make sure I am fully fit and ready before making the final decision to step on court. The aim is not only to participate, but to win a medal for my country.”

So far this season Hurkacz has won 34 out of 48 matches played on the Tour. He won the Estoril Open in April and was runner-up to Jannik Sinner in Halle. 

The Olympic tennis event is scheduled to begin a week Saturday on July 27th. Poland is yet to win a medal in the event but expectations are high with women’s No.1 Iga Swiatek also taking part. 

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Krejcikova Comes Alive With Her Serve To Win 12th Grand Slam Title At Wimbledon

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image via x.com/wimbledon

It must have seemed like the whole world was against her when Barbora Krejcikova served for the match for a third time against crowd favorite Jasmine Paolini.

But Krejcikova was only going for her 12th Grand Slam title. She was well prepared.

So, she released her patented way-out-wide serve to the smallish Paolini’s backhand, and the best the Italian could do was get her racket on the ball enough to return the serve far off the court, long and wide.

ARMS UP FOR A CHAMPION

The weight of the world was gone as Krejcikova threw her arms over her head and calmly walked to the net to greet the Wimbledon runner-up.

Now, Krejcikova was half-way home to a career Grand Slam in singles. She already owns a career Grand Slam in doubles among her dozen Grand Slam titles that also include one mixed doubles Grand Slam title.

She has won the hard ones, the French Open on clay and Wimbledon on grass.

At 28 years old, anything must look possible to this 5-10 Czech.

KREJCIKOVA COMES THROUGH UNDER PRESSURE

Paolini simply was out played in a second straight Grand Slam final, on clay and on grass. Now she faces the real tests, two straight Grand Slam tournaments on hard surfaces that might not be overly friendly to the 5-4 Paolini.

But there it was, a 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 victory for Krejcikova on Wimbledon’s famed Center Court.

After what might be called a throw-away second set for Krejcikova, she came alive in the third set, pinning Paolini to the deep corners while nailing low hard-hit balls to both corners.

Krejcikova got off to 40-0 starts on her first four service games of the decisive set and ended all four with service winners to take a 5-3 lead (with the aid of the only service break of the third set). She yielded only one point in those four service games, a double fault at 40-0 that was followed by an ace.

Of course, it was the serve again that saved the day for Krejcikova and gave her set points two and three, then sealed the deal for a spot in Wimbledon history.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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Jasmine Paolini’s Wimbledon Run Hailed By Italian Prime Minister

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Image via x.com/twitter

The Prime Minister of Italy has praised Jasmine Paolini for lighting up the hearts of others during her Wimbledon run. 

Paolini missed out on her first Grand Slam title to Barbora Krejcikova, who prevailed in three sets to capture her second major trophy. Despite her defeat, she has made history at the tournament by becoming the first female player from her country to reach the final. Until this year, she had never won a Tour-level main draw match on the grass. 

Whilst disappointed about missing out on the biggest title of her career, Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni posted a tribute to Paolini on social media just moments after the final had concluded.

“Proud of Jasmine Paolini,” The Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata (ANSA) quotes Meloni as saying. 

“The first Italian tennis player to reach the final of the prestigious Wimbledon tournament. 

“Despite the defeat, you lit up the hearts of the Italian people, succeeding in conveying grit and passion to all of us who supported you”. 

Paolini is the first player ranked outside the top five to reach the final of both Wimbledon and the French Open within the same year since the ranking system was introduced in 1975. She is also only the fourth female player in the Open Era to have reached her first two Grand Slam finals in the same year at Roland Garros and Wimbledon after Chris Evert (1973), Olga Morozova (1974) and Steffi Graf (1987). 

Should she win three or more matches at the US Open later this year, she will also set a new Open Era record for the most Grand Slam wins achieved by an Italian female player in a single season. 

“The last two months have been crazy for me. I want to thank my team, and my family. They always support me and I wouldn’t be here without them. The crowd have been amazing. I received a lot of support. Just incredible to feel the love from them, I enjoy it so much.” Paolini said following her Wimbledon defeat. 

The 28-year-old will rise to a ranking high of No.3 on Monday. 

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