‘A Ball Mark Got More Attention’ - Argentinian Whistleblower Slams Corruption In Tennis - UBITENNIS
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‘A Ball Mark Got More Attention’ – Argentinian Whistleblower Slams Corruption In Tennis

Marco Trungelliti has called for changes to be made to the tour.

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Marco Trungelliti (photo by chryslène caillaud Copyright : @Sport Vision)

For the second year running Marco Trungelliti is making headlines during the same time as the French Open, but for a very different and more serious reason.

12 months ago the tennis world was enthralled by his 10-hour drive to Roland Garros after receiving a lucky loser spot into the competition at the last minute. He travelled a total of 650 miles with his grandmother Dafne (who was 89 at the time), mother Susanna and brother Andre. What was even more remarkable was that he managed to win his first round match against Bernard Tomic, before losing in the second round. Exiting the tournament with €79,000.

Trungelliti was one of the feel good stories of the 2018 tournament, but has since been caught up in one of the most serious match-fixing investigations to ever strike professional tennis in his home country. The evidence given by the 29-year-old to the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) resulted in the suspension of three players. The most notable of which was Nicolas Kicker, who reached a ranking high of 78th.

“It took the TIU longer than they should have to announce. It seems that the pressure built to a point that they couldn’t ignore it.” Trungelliti wrote in a post for Behind The Racket.
“It was not a good situation and set a bad example for players who wanted to report anything. It was truly sad to see that a controversial ball mark posted on Twitter got way more attention than the serious problem we have in tennis. Players and coaches are throwing matches and gambling on tennis, and I tried to do my part to stop it.”

In the aftermath of the investigation, the Argentine voiced anger at the anti-corruption body. In an interview with the Associated Press last month, he said he was ‘used’ by the TIU and was still ‘paying the price.’ On the tour, Trungelliti revealed that some players have event stopped talking to him following the trio of suspensions.

Eventually the TIU did publish a statement of support for Trungelliti. However, it was released three months after the investigation was first reported by Newspaper La Nacion on February 10th.

“It was truly sad to see that a controversial ball mark posted on Twitter got way more attention than the serious problem we have in tennis. Players and coaches are throwing matches and gambling on tennis, and I tried to do my part to stop it.” He wrote.
“The worst part about this is I was not as supported as I thought I would be, getting called a snitch by multiple people. I was receiving hate from people in Argentina, Latin America and other regions.”

The world No.140 says life back home is ‘not great’ following his testimonials with the families of the suspended players outraged with him.

Players suspended with the help of Trungelliti
-Nicolas Kicker (ranking high of 78th) = Six-year ban with three of those being suspended
-Patricio Heras (ranking high of 463rd) = Five-year ban with two of those being suspended
-Federico Coria (ranking high of 170) = Eight-month ban with two of those being suspended

The governing bodies of tennis have pledged to work harder in tackling corruption since an investigation by the BBC and Buzzfeed News in 2016 alleged that there was widespread match-fixing in the sport. Last year the Independent Review Panel (IRP) concluded that there has been no cover-up of match-fixing in the sport, but it is a problem at lower level events. Where the prize money is low. 464 out of the 3200 professionals questioned admitted they had first-hand knowledge of match-fixing. Under current rules, if a player fails to report illegal activities on the tour that they know of, they face a potential suspension.

Whilst some may argue the situation is improving, Trungelliti believes lower ranked players are being given different treatment compared to those at the top.

“It seems as if the top players are playing in a different league, where corruption and financial problems rarely touch them. I feel separated from them and I know other players are with me. Even at the better challengers, and even 250’s, we are not treated how we should be. I am not sure if the people at the top understand this. Corruption exists here for this reason and it all needs to change.” He concluded.

Trungelliti participated in the French Open qualification tournament this week, but lost in the first round to Hugo Gaston.

 

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“It took the TIU (Tennis Integrity Unit) longer than they should have to announce. It seems that the pressure built to a point that they couldn’t ignore it. It was not a good situation and set a bad example for players who wanted to report anything. It was truly sad to see that a controversial ball mark posted on Twitter got way more attention than the serious problem we have in tennis. Players and coaches are throwing matches and gambling on tennis, and I tried to do my part to stop it. As players we know the difference when another player is tanking because of an off day or because they are a part of something much worse. This kind of tanking will ruin the sport and is awful for young kids to see. The worst part about this is I was not as supported as I thought I would be, getting called a snitch by multiple people. I was receiving hate from people in Argentina, Latin America and other regions. It picked up steam when a member of the ATP player’s council announced on Twitter that I was putting blame on others to protect myself. How does the ATP allow this to take place without any consequences. When I go back to Argentina it is still not a great situation for me. Families of people who got banned are blaming me, but in reality it is not my fault but theirs. It is sadly the mentality of Argentina, gambling is just a part of the culture. I was receiving messages that this was a career suicide decision. It may have been but I would kill my career several hundred times, before willingly being a part of a corrupt system. It seems as if the top players are playing in a different league, where corruption and financial problems rarely touch them. I feel separated from them and I know other players are with me. Even at the better challengers, and even 250’s, we are not treated how we should be. I am not sure if the people at the top understand this. Corruption exists here for this reason and it all needs to change.”

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Carlos Alcaraz In Doubt For Madrid Open Title Defence

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Carlos Alcaraz admits that he is not certain if he will be ready in time to play at next week’s Madrid Masters.

The 20-year-old is yet to play a clay tournament in Europe due to a forearm injury which ruled him out of both Monte Carlo and Barcelona. He hurt his right arm whilst training shortly before the Monte Carlo event began. 

It is the latest in a series of injury issues that has affected Alcaraz throughout his young career. Since the start of 2023, he has also been derailed by issues with his abdominal, hamstring, post-traumatic arthritis in his left hand and muscular discomfort in his spine. 

“My feeling isn’t right, but it is what it is. Now I’m fully focused on recovery and I have a little more time,” Alcaraz told reporters in Barcelona on Monday.
“My goal is to try and go to the Madrid Open, but at the moment nothing is certain. I was given specific recovery times and I’ve respected them, but I haven’t felt good. I don’t want to get ahead of myself.
“I can’t say I’ll be 100% in Madrid, but that’s my intention. We’ll train and do everything we can so that the feelings improve so I can play a match … It’s also a very special tournament for me.”

Alcaraz has won the past two editions of the Madrid Open, which is classed as a Masters 1000 event. In 2022 he defeated Alexander Zverev in the final and then 12 months later he beat Jan-Lennard Struff in the title match.

The setback comes after what has been a steady start to the year for Alcaraz who has reached the quarter-finals or better in four out of five tournaments played. He successfully defended his title in Indian Wells and then reached the semi-finals in Miami. 

Should he not play in Madrid, it is likely that the Spaniard will lose his No.2 spot to Jannik Sinner who is just over 100 points behind him in the standings. He will still have the chance to play a clay-court event before the French Open with Rome taking place early next month. 

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Olympic Qualification Is Not the Only Goal For French Veteran Gael Monfils

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Gael Monfils (image via https://twitter.com/atptour)

Gael Monfils admits he doesn’t have too many years left on the Tour but this doesn’t mean his targets are any less ambitious. 

The 37-year-old has enjoyed a rapid rise up the rankings over the past 12 months following battles with injury. At his lowest, he was ranked 394th last May but is now in 40th position. As a result, he is closing on securing a place in the Olympic Games which is being held in his home country of France for the first time since 1924. The tennis event will be staged at Roland Garros. 

“When I was 400, I was thinking the Olympics would be great, but it’s going to be tough,” Monfils told reporters on Tuesday. 
“There are younger players playing well. If I don’t qualify, I don’t mind. It will just mean I’m very close to the ranking I want to be. That ranking will allow me to find another goal.”

Monfils is already a three-time Olympian but has never won a medal at the event. He reached the quarter-finals of the singles tournament twice in 2008 and 2016. 

Another goal of Frenchmen is the Wimbledon championships which concludes just three weeks before the Olympics begin. The proximity of these tournaments will be a challenge to all players who will be going from playing on clay to grass and then back to clay again. 

“I really want to go and play Wimbledon. I don’t have so many Wimbledons to play in the future. The Olympics is one goal, not the only goal.” Monfils states.
“My dream is of course to be part of the Olympics. I played three times at the Olympics. I’d like to be there again. But I also really want to do well in Wimbledon this year. To reach my goal, it has to be including Wimbledon.” He added. 

Monfils is currently playing at the Monte Carlo Masters where he beat Aleksandar Vukic in his opening match. In the next round, he will take on Daniil Medvedev in what will be their first meeting since 2022. He leads their head-to-head 2-1. 

Medvedev has openly spoken about his roller-coaster relationship with playing on the clay. He admits it is not his favourite surface but how much of a factor could this be in his upcoming clash with Monfils?

“Of course, it’s not his favourite one, but he’s still Daniil Medvedev, and whatever the surface, it’s always very complicated to play him,” Monfils concludes. 

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Matteo Berrettini wins in Marrakech displaying quality tennis

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Matteo Berrettini - Marrakech 2024 (photo X @ATPTour_ES)

Matteo Berrettini defeats Roberto Carballes Baena in straight sets, 75 62, and proves that his comeback is well grounded  

If life is often considered a continuous narrative, it may be no coincidence that today Matteo Berrettini’s comeback journey intersescted Carballes Baena, a player he had faced twice in straight tournaments, Florence and Naples in October 2022, shortly before plunging into his annus horribilis, an injury-plagued 2023.

Just like resuming the story from where it was left.

Carballes Baena, the defending champion, got off to a sharper start, holding serve with ease and earning a first break point in the second game. Berrettini averted the threat by hammering down three serves but lost his service two games later.

Doubts on the Italian’s recovery from his energy-draining semifinal may have been starting to come afloat. However Berrettini broke back immediately, unsettling the Spaniard’s consistency with changes of pace and alternating lifted and sliced backhands.

The next six games neatly followed serve. Figures witness how close the match was. After 45 minutes the scoreboard read 5 games all, and stats reported 27 points apiece.

The eleventh game was to be crucial. Carballes Baena netted two forehands, while trying to hit through the Italian’s skidding spins and conceded a break point. Berrettini followed up two massive forehands with a delicate, unreachable drop shot and secured the break.

Carballes Baena was far from discouraged, and fired two forehand winners dashing to 0 40  with the Italian serving for the set.

Berrettini was lucky to save the first break point with a forehand that pinched the top of the net, and trickled over. Then he hit two winning first serves to draw even. Then again two first serves paired with their loyal forehand winner: Berrettini’s copyright gamepattern sealed a 59 minute first set.

The match seemed about to swing round at the very start of the second set when Carballes Baena had three break points and was winning all the longer rallies. Once more Berrettini got out of trouble thanks to his serve. Carballes Baena’s disappointment turned into frustration after he failed to put away two quite comfortable smashes and lost his service immediately after.  

Unforced errors were seeping into the Spaniard’s game and when Berrettini won a 16-shot rally with a stunning crosscourt forehand on the stretch and went on to grab a two-break lead, the match appeared to have taken its final twist.

Berrettini did not falter when serving for the match at 5 2, despite an unforced error on the first point. Three first serves chauffeured him to two match points.

Carballes Baena only succeeded in bravely saving the first, well steering the rally. But the 2021 Wimbledon finalist produced a massive serve out wide and joyfully lifted his arms to the sky, for a most emotional victory. It means so much to a player whose talent and career have been incessantly diminished by injuries.

It’s been a tough last couple of years” Matteo Berrettini said, holding the trophy. “Thanks to my team I was able to overcome all the tough moments my body didn’t allow me to play. I thank you and all the people that made my comeback possible: all my friends and my family, the people that were with me all the time when I was sad, injured and I didn’t think I could make it.”

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