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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Maria Sakari reaches her first WTA Tour final since 2019 in Ostrava

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Maria Sakkari has reached her first WTA Tour final since 2019 after nine consecutive tour-level semifinal defeats, by beating number 1 seed Iga Swiatek 6-4 7-5 after 1 hour and 51 minutes at the J&T Banka Ostrava Open. 

 

Sakkari won her only title on the clay court of Rabat. Swiatek had never lost a tour-level semifinal and had a win-loss record of 2-0 in her semifinals played in 2021. The Greek player lost to Victoria Azarenka in the semifinals in Ostrava last year. 

Sakkari has extended her win-loss record to 2-0 in her head-to-head matches against Swiatek. In their only previous match Sakkari beat Swiatek in the French Open quarter final last June ending the Pole’s Roland Garros title defense. 

Sakkari won 77% of her first service points and hit 22 winners to 19 unforced errors. 

Sakkari hit a forehand winner to earn her only break in the opening game of the first set. The Greek player did not face a single break point in the first set. 

Sakkari had to save a break point at the start of the second set before holding serve for 2-2. Sakkari earned the break in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. Swiatek broke back in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. 

Sakkari converted her third break point with a forehand winner down the line to take a 6-5 lead and sealed the win on her first match point. 

Sakkari set up a final against Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit, who cruised past Petra Kvitova 6-0 6-4 after 1 hour and 11 minutes. The Estonian player scored her third top 10 win of the year after beating Sofia Kenin in Stuttgart and Bianca Andreescu in Eastbourne. She has reached her fourth final in 2021 after winning her second career title in Cleveland, finishing runner-up to Jelena Ostapenko in Eastbourne and sharing the Grampians Trophy with Ann Li after the final was not played due to a scheduling delay. 

Kontaveit hit 18 winners to just 7 unforced errors. Kvitova made 28 unforced errors to 11 winners. Kontaveit broke serve three times to take a bagel win in the first set, as Kvitova made 16 unforced errors to just 2 winners. 

Kvitova won her first game in the opening game of the second set. Kontaveit broke serve at love in the fifth game with a backhand winner to take a 3-2 lead.Kvitova saved a match point to hold serve to hold serve for 5-4 and hit a lob to earn her first break point of the match in the next game, as Kontaveit was serving for the win. Kontaveit saved it and closed out the match by forcing a final eror from Kvitova with a big backhand.  

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Hubert Hurkacz and Pablo Carreno Busta reach the final at the Moselle Open in Metz

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Top two seeds Hubert Hurkacz and Pablo Carreno Busta reached the final at the Moselle Open in Metz, an ATP 250 tournament.

 

Hubert Hurkacz reached the final at the Moselle Open with a 6-4 7-6 (7-4) win over German qualifier Peter Gojowczyk in 1 hour and 37 minutes.

Hurkacz won 79% of points of his first service points to extend his winning record to 2-0 in his two head-to-head matches against Gojowczyk. 

Hurkacz saved a break point in both the first and third games of the opening set. Gojowczyk fended off in the fourth and eighth games at deuce. Hurkacz earned his first break at deuce in the 10th game to win the first set 6-4. 

Gojowzyk earned an early break in the first game to take a 1-0 lead at the start of the second set. Hurkacz converted his second break point at deuce in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. Gojowczyk saved two match points in the 12th game to hold serve for 6-6 at deuce. Gojowczyk earned an early mini-break to take a 1-0 lead. Hurkacz won five consecutive points to take a 5-1 lead with three mini-breaks. Gojowczyk pulled one of the two breaks back for 3-5 and saved one of the three match points, but Hurkacz earned his fourth mini-break to win the tie-break 7-4. 

Hurkacz won Delray Beach before he claimed his first Masters 1000 title in Miami. Last July the Polish player reached the semifinal at Wimbledon and is currently ninth in the ATP Race to Turin. 

Gojowczyk got through the qualifying round to reach the fourth round at the US Open. The German player won his only ATP Tour title in Metz in 2017. 

“I think I played a couple of really good points in important moments, so that was good from my side. The atmosphere was amazing today. Thanks to the music group. They were amazing and made it great and the fans enjoyed it”, said Hurkacz. 

Second seed Pablo Carreno Busta battled past Gael Monfils 7-5 7-6 (10-8) after 1 hour and 49 minutes to reach his third tour-level final. Carreno Busta bounced back from 1-4 down in the first set and fended off four set points at 3-6, 4-6 5-6 6-7 in the tie-break of the second set. The Spanish player sealed the win, when Monfils hit a forehand win

Carreno Busta drew level to 3-3 in his six head-to-head matches against Monfils. 

“It’s a long time since we have played with this kind of atmosphere. It was amazing. At the beginning it was really tough. Then I started to play better and made the rallies longer from the baseline and I think it was key to try and push a little bit”, said Carreno Busta. Carreno Busta was playing in his first ATP Tour level semifinal since Dubai in 2020. 

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Petra Kvitova set semifinal against Anett Kontaveit in Ostrava

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Anett Kontaveit upset this year’s Olympic singles gold medallist Belinda Bencic 6-4 6-3 after 74 minutes in the quarter finals of the J&T Banka Ostrava Open. Kontaveit set up a semifinal clash against two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova. 

 

Kontaveit has extended her winning streak against Bencic to 2-0. The Estonian had beaten her Swiss rival in the third round of the 2020 Australian Open. 

Kontaveit scored her fourth win over a top 20 player this year. She won the second WTA title of her career in Cleveland before the US Open. 

Kontaveit hit 29 winners to just 18 unforced errors and converted five of her eight break points. Bencic produced 12 winners to 18 unforced errors. 

In the first set Kontaveit broke serve in the fourth and sixth games to race out to a 5-1 lead and earned a set point in the seventh game. Bencic fired a winner to save the set point. The Swiss player fended off another set point at 5-3. 

Bencic pulled both breaks back to get back on seve at 5-4. However, Kontaveit converted the first of her three set points. Both players traded breaks in the first two games of the third set. Kontaveit hit a backhand winner down the line to break serve for 4-2 in the sixth game. She held serve at love for 5-2 and sealed the win in the ninth game on her second match point with a crosscourt backhand winner. 

Petra Kvitova knocked out Jill Teichmann 6-4 6-4. The Czech player saved seven of the eight break points she faced. 

Kvitova saved five break points in the fourth game of the first set to hold serve for 2-2. The Czech player earned the break in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead, as Teichmann sent her forehand long. Kvitova hit her forehand to earn three set points and converted her second chance by forcing an error. 

Kvitova earned an early break in the second game to take a 2-0 lead. Teichmann broke straight back to draw to 2-2. Kvitova hit a series of backhands to get her second break in the fifth game for 3-2 and saved three break points to hold serve for 4-2. The home player earned three set points with a backhand winner at 5-4. After missing her first match point with a double fault, she converted her second chance with an unreturnable serve. 

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