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Tennis Risks Entering Into A Black Market Following Match-Fixing Review, Warns Sportradar

It has been claimed that one recommendation made following a multi-million pound investigation into match-fixing has been based on ‘weak and flawed’ evidence.

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Sports data company Sportrader has hit back at a report published earlier this year by the Tennis Integrity Unit concerning recommendations to tackle match-fixing in the sport.

 

In April an Independent Review Panel (IRP) released an extensive report concerning corruption in the sport following a two-year multi-million pound investigation. It concluded that there was a ‘tsunami’ of corruption occurring at lower level events where the prize money is low. However, dismissed the idea that the governing bodies of tennis have tried to cover up the problem. The investigation was launched following a report in January 2016 by the BBC and Buzzfeed news that claimed match-fixing was widespread in tennis.

The IRP set out a series of recommendations for the future, but one particular proposal has been blasted by Sportradar. This is concerning the call to get rid of the data sales at the lowest level of the sport. Meaning a removal of live scoring from those events. Sportradar currently has a $70 million deal with the ITF in regards to providing live data for matches, including Challenger and Futures events.

“The Review has provided useful insight into betting-related integrity issues within tennis and provides some sound recommendations on how best to address these challenges.” Sportradar concluded in their 112-page report.
“However, whilst we agree that tennis faces integrity risks, in certain key areas we believe that the Review has misrepresented those risks and consequently proposed solutions that are inappropriate and disproportionate. Our concerns principally relate to Recommendation 1 and the discontinuance of data sales.”

Continuing their defence, the sports data group has claimed that the IRP’s conclusion is based on ‘weak and flawed’ evidence. Arguing that betting data shows that match-fixing pose a higher risk at both Challenger and ATP Tour level. Sportradar has also said that should data sales be removed from the lower level events, it will only shift the issue to ‘higher risk’ markets. It will also have little impact on efforts to reduce the number of match-fixing offences or reduced the workload for the Tennis Integrity Unit.

“Attempting a total data black-out on a sport has never been done, or even trialled or tested before,” Managing Director of Group Operations David Lampitt told SBC News.
“Counter evidence and expert analysis indicate that such an approach is likely to have a harmful effect on integrity, which would be hard to reverse if unsuccessful.
“So, the Panel is staking its reputation, and that of the sport, on an uncertain ‘guess’, when there is good evidence that a different approach and an incremental process of implementing enhanced and targeted measures would be more likely to deliver successful outcomes and integrity benefits.”

According to the data provided in the report published by the IRP, ITF tournaments had the lowest ratio of referral rates concerning irregularities. During 2017 the referral ratio was 0.32%, which is lower than tour level (0.46%) and grand slams (0.64%). An analysis of data between 2013-2017 also found that Challenger tournaments posed a greater risk to match fixing than Future events.

In the world of sports betting, tennis remains one of the most vulnerable to match-fixing. A report by the International sports betting integrity association ESSA flagged up a total of 44 suspicious betting alerts during the second quarter of 2018. This equates to 71% of total alerts they were notified of.

Recommendations by Sportradar

  1. Implement a proactive tennis-wide approach to restricting data distribution, targeting specific matches with an elevated risk of corrupt activity based on a consistent and analysis-led evaluation. This is something that Sportradaris doing as part of their integrity partnership with the ITF
  2. Create a new body made up of representatives from tennis, betting operators and sports data companies to ensure a more concerted and collective approach to fighting corruption in tennis across related operational areas that should include the application of the above-targeted data restrictions
  3. Increase AV streaming coverage, where possible, to help provide reliable evidence
  4. Create new regulations to enable quicker sanctioning based on betting data and expert player analysis
  5. Bring in targeted measures to deal with online abuse of players, especially at lower levels, enabling players to escalate concerns
  6. Use technology to target risks, streamline processes, maximise impact and enhance intelligence-led enforcement action

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The 2019 ATP Tour Review

Ubitennis.net reviews a great ATP season highlighted by Rafael Nadal’s Roland Garros and US Open titles, Novak Djokovic’s win over Roger Federer in an epic Wimbledon final, Daniil Medvedev’s great hard-court season, Stefanos Tsitsipas’ breakthrough into the top 10 and the rise of Italian players Matteo Berrettini and Jannik Sinner.

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Rafael Nadal (image via Kosmos Tennis)
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The best ATP player of the season

Rafael Nadal celebrated his 200th week at world number 1 in the ATP Rankings. Only five players since 1973 have been ranked at the top for more weeks: Roger Federer (310 weeks), Pete Sampras (286), Novak Djokovic (275), Ivan Lendl (270), and Jimmy Connors (268 weeks).

 

Nadal enjoyed another great season in 2019 by winning four titles, including two Grand Slam titles (Roland Garros and US Open) and two Masters 1000 titles (Rome and Montreal). He also finished runner-up to Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open final.

He won his 12th Roland Garros title with a victory over Dominic Thiem in the final, confirming his reputation as the King of Clay. Becoming player (male or female ) to win the same Grand Slam tournament 12 times.

Overall, he recorded 58 wins to 7 defeats and finished the season as the year-end number 1 player for the fifth time in his career. The 33-year-old Spanish player is the oldest player to finish year-end number 1 in the history.

The most consistent player: Danil Medvedev

Danil Medvedev leads the ATP Tour in 2019 with a record of 59 match wins, including 46 victories on a hard court. He reached six straight finals since Wimbledon. Winning four titles in Sofia, St. Petersburg and two consecutive Masters 1000 tournaments in Cincinnati and Shanghai. He also finished runner-up in three more finals in Brisbane, Barcelona and the US Open.

Medvedev rallied from two sets down before losing to Nadal after 4 hours and 51 minutes in his first Grand Slam final. He is the first Russian player to reach a Grand Slam final since Marat Safin at the 2005 Australian Open and the youngest Grand Slam finalist since Novak Djokovic.

The most improved player of the year: Stefanos Tsitsipas:

One year after clinching the ATP Next Gen Finals trophy in Milan, Stefanos Tsitsipas won the ATP Finals at the O2 Arena in London after beating Dominic Thiem. The young Greek star won two more titles in Marseille on indoor hard court and Estoril on clay and finished runner-up in two more finals in Dubai to Roger Federer and in Beijing to Dominic Thiem.

At the age of 20 Tsitsipas became the youngest Australian Open semifinalist since Andy Roddick in 2003. He is the first Greek player to break into Top 5 and the first Greek to reach a Grand Slam semifinal. At the Australian Open Tsitsipas saved 12 break points against Roger Federer in the fourth round.

Tsitsipas earned 54 match wins this year and beat Rafael Nadal to reach the Madrid Masters 1000 Final before losing to Novak Djokovic in the title match.

The most surprising player of the year: Matteo Berrettini:

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The Italian 23-year-old player broke into the top 10 of the ATP Ranking on 28 October and reached the career-high at world number 8 on 4 November. In his breakthrough season Berrettini became the first ATP Finals singles qualifier from Italy since former number 8 player and current Davis Cup captain Corrado Barazzutti in 1978.

Berrettini won two titles in Budapest on clay and Stuttgart on grass and reached ATP 500 semifinals at Halle, Vienna. He became the first Italian player in history to reach a Masters 1000 semifinal in Shanghai. This season he has achieved a series of milestones for Italian tennis. Including becoming the second Italian player in history to reach a US Open semifinal and the fourth overall. Following in the footsteps of Adriano Panatta, Corrado Barazzutti and Marco Cecchinato. Berrettini also reached the Wimbledon fourth round by defeating Diego Schwartzman after saving three match points.

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Kiki Bertens Believes In Stability And Trust Ahead Of 2020 Season

Kiki Bertens looks for stability in hope of grand slam success in 2020.

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Kiki Bertens (@rogerscup - Twitter)

Kiki Bertens believes stability and trust is the key to success ahead of the 2020 season despite a time of change for the Dutchwoman. 

 

A time of change is approaching for Kiki Bertens as she recently just got married to her physical trainer Remko De Rijke.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B5iU5w9hTgf/

It’s not only off the court, change is approaching for the former Wimbledon quarter-finalist as her and coach Raemon Sluiter parted ways during the off-season.

After the split it would have been easy for Bertens to make a radical change to her coaching team but that is not her style as she has promoted Elise Tamaela to a main coaching role.

Even through a time of change, Bertens believes stability is crucial to success, “It takes me a while to be able to trust someone,” she admitted to Dutch website De Telegraaf. 

“And I don’t want to spend that time on something like that. We’re going to continue in the same way for next year. The results were not as expected in the Grand Slams but I had other good weeks. It’s really not that I felt different playing in the Slams than in other weeks in which I could win titles.”

Although the formula to winning a grand slam has yet to be solved, the world number nine has achieved great consistency having won 55 matches in 2019, which also included the biggest title of her career in Madrid.

A new era await for Bertens with her new coach and plenty of praise was given to Elise Tamaela ahead of the new season, “For me the most important thing is that that person knows a lot about tennis. I have to be able to fully trust her,” Bertens said.

“To be able to laugh with that person, eat with her. I prefer to keep the equipment to the minimum possible and be able to feel comfortable in terms of confidence. Sometimes more people in the team only bring more opinions. And that style is not mine.”

This simplistic formula has worked for Bertens in the past and as the 2020 season approaches, she’s not looking to change it.

However will inexperience lead to the same results at grand slams, with the level of the Women’s game rising, Bertens may find that breaking the boundaries of stability is needed.

The former world number four will start her march towards more glory in Brisbane on the 6th of January.

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Caroline Wozniacki Announces Retirement After Australian Open

Caroline Wozniacki has announced that she will retire from tennis after the Australian Open in January.

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Caroline Wozniacki (@WeAreTennis - Twitter)

Caroline Wozniacki has announced that she will retire from tennis after the Australian Open as a new chapter in her life approaches. 

 

The Dane won 30 WTA singles titles in her career and spent 71 weeks as world number one although a grand slam had haunted her for most of her career.

However that changed in 2018 after an epic win over Simona Halep sealed a dream come true as she won her first grand slam at the Australian Open.

Since winning her maiden slam though, it has been an uphill struggle on the court for Wozniacki as she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.

Some days the former world number one and on some days, it is a constant battle for her to even wake up in the morning.

Now with other priorities taking over having been married to former NBA player David Lee since June and already studying Business at Harvard, Wozniacki today took the decision to retire from tennis after the Australian Open.

https://twitter.com/MPTenisPodcast/status/1202972268831367168

In a statement on Instagram, Woznaicki told her followers that she had accomplished everything she wanted to and looks forward to the future, “I’ve accomplished everything I could ever dream of on the court,” she said.

“I’ve always told myself, when the time comes, that there are things away from tennis that I want to do more, then it’s time to be done. In recent months, I’ve realized that there is a lot more in life that I’d like to accomplish off the court.

“Getting married to David was one of those goals and starting a family with him while continuing to travel the world and helping raise awareness about rheumatoid arthritis (project upcoming) are all passions of mine moving forward.

“This has nothing to do with my health and this isn’t a goodbye, I look forward to sharing my exciting journey ahead with all of you!

“Finally, I want to thank with all my heart, the fans, my friends, my sponsors, my team, especially my father as my coach, my husband, and my family for decades of support! Without all of you I could have never have done this!”

Although this retirement may have been coming, not many people would have predicted it would come at the scene of her grand slam breakthrough.

Now in the last stretch of her career, the Dane will want to finish on a high as she looks to celebrate a career that has lasted nearly 15 years.

 

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