‘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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Stefanos Tsitsipas extends his winning streak with straight-set win over Pablo Carreno Busta in Minsk

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Last week’s Marseille champion and 2019 Dubai finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas beat Pablo Carreno Busta 7-6 (7-1) 6-1 after 1 hour and 34 minutes to reach the second round at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Touurnament.

 

Tsitsipas earned the first break in the second game to take a 3-0 lead. Carreno Busta won three consecutive games with a break-back in the fifth game to draw level to 3-3. The opening set went on serve without breaks to set up a tie-break. Tsitsipas cruised through to 7-1 to win the tie-break.

Tsitsipas broke three times in the first, fifth and seventh games to win the second set 6-1.

The Greek player has extended his winning streak to 10 consecutive wins and has a record of 8-4 in his 12 matches this year.

“I am happy that I got two-set victories for a very long time. I am not spending extra hours out on the court, which for sure is going to help me”, said Tsitsipas.

Tsitsipas sets up a second round match against Alexander Bublik, who fended off three of his four break points in his 6-2 7-5 win over Hubert Hurkacz. Tsitispas beat Hurkacz 7-5 6-3 last week in the Marseille semifinal last week.

“Bublik is a tricky player. He does unexpected things on the court. I just need to be there, do my job the way I am doing it so far”, said Tsitsipas.

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Benoit Paire saves four match points to beat Marin Cilic in Dubai

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Eighth seed Benoit Paire saved four match points to beat Marin Cilic 2-6 7-5 7-6 (7-1) at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships taking a re-match for the tie-break loss in the fifth set at last January’s Australian Open in Melbourne.

 

Cilic saved two break points before breaking serve in the second game to open up a 2-0 lead. The Croatian player saved a break point at deuce before holding serve in the third game for 3-0. Cilic broke serve from 0-40 down to break serve at deuce in the final game of the opening set.

Paire broke serve in the first game of the second set to open a 2-0 lead. Cilic broke back in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. Both players traded breaks in the eighth and ninth games. Cilic won the final three games with a break to win the first set 7-5.

Both players traded breaks in the second and third games of the decisive set. Cilic saved break points in the fifth and eleventh games. Paire saved two break points to hold serve at deuce. Paire reeled off six consecutive points from 1-1 to win the tie-break 7-1.

“I am really happy about the win. It was not easy today. I was not feeling really good on court. I have been a little bit sick for two, three days. I am really happy to win today and to fight until the end”, said Paire.

 Daniel Evans rallied from one set and one break down to edge Fabio Fognini 3-6 6-4 7-5 after 2 hours and 38 minutes. Fognini went up a double break to take a 4-0 lead. Evans pulled one break back in the fifth game, but Fognini held his next service games and wrap up the first set 6-3.

Fognini saved two break points before breaking serve at 15 to take a 3-1 lead. Evans broke back at deuce in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. Evans converted his second break back in the 10th game to wrap up the second set 6-4.

Fognini started the third set with a break at deuce to take a 1-0 lead. Evans broke straight back in another deuce game to draw level to 1-1. Fognini earned another break at 15 to take a 3-2 lead. Evans broke straight back to draw level to 3-3. Evans wrapped up the third set with a break in a marathon 12th game on his sixth match point.

Paire set up an all-French match against Richard Gasquet, who beat Marton Fucsovics 6-4 7-5.

Another Frenchman Pierre Hugues Herbert defeated Delray Beach finalist Yoshihito Nishioka 7-5 6-2 in 78 minutes.

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Queen’s Organizers Optimistic Over Andy Murray’s Return As Two Top 10 Players Join Entry List

The first four names set to play in the ATP 500 event has been announced.

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The director of the Fever-Tree Championships has said he is ‘hopeful’ that Andy Murray will play in the tournament later this year after he was included in the first group of names on the official entry list.

 

The three-time grand slam champion hasn’t played a competitive match since the Davis Cup last November due to a pelvic injury. Murray has already delayed his return to the tour on numerous occasions as he continues his rehabilitation process. It is the latest setback for the injury-stricken 32-year-old, who also underwent career saving hip resurfacing surgery last year.

“Andy is our greatest champion. We know Andy is still working his way back to fitness, but we also know that he wants to play, so fingers crossed that he will be able to.” Stephen Farrow said in a press release on Tuesday.

Murray, who is currently ranked 130th in the world, is the most decorated player in the history of the Queen’s event. He has won the trophy five times between 2009-2016 and has won 30 out of 37 matches played there. Last year he also won the doubles title alongside Feliciano Lopez in what was his comeback tournament following his hip surgery.

Tuesday’s announcement of Murray playing at The Queen’s Club comes as no surprise. He has a lifetime contract to play there for the rest of his career unless he is ill or injured. Similar to what Roger Federer has with the Halle event, which takes place during the same week as Queen’s.

Other names to play in London this year include ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas, who lost to Felix Auger-Aliassime in the quarter-finals last year. The Greek is yet to contest an ATP final on the grass, but did win the Wimbledon boys’ doubles title back in 2016.

“London will always be a special place for me after winning the ATP Finals last year and I am looking forward to coming back in June.” Said Tsitsipas. “The crowd at the O2 touched my heart in a very special way and I am excited to play at Queen’s again this June. It is a big tournament and important to play in the lead up to Wimbledon.”

World No.5 Daniil Medvedev is another top name set to play in what will be his fourth appearance at Queen’s. In 2019 he produced his best ever run at the tournament by reaching the semi-finals before falling in three sets to France’s Gilles Simon.

“The last 6 months have been incredible for me, a real breakthrough, and now I want to try to do the same on grass.” The US Open finalist stated. “The Fever-Tree Championships at The Queen’s Club is a great event with perfect grass courts, and I am looking forward to playing there ahead of Wimbledon.”

Completing the quartet of confirmed names is 38-year-old two-time champion Lopez, who won the singles title last year, as well as the doubles with Murray. He is one of only two Spanish men to have ever won the event in the Open Era. There other was Rafael Nadal back in 2008.

“I thought when I won the title in 2017 that it was the best moment of my career. I was wrong. It was last year! Winning singles and doubles was something incredible, more than I could ever have dreamed when Stephen (Farrow) gave me the wild card.” Lopez reflected.
“That final day is one that I will never forget, Queen’s is always going to be one of the most special places of my career, and I am already looking forward to coming back to the Fever-Tree Championships in June to defend my title.”

The ATP 500 event will get underway on June 15th.

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