‘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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Andy Murray Skips French Open To Focus On The Grass

The decision has been made after the Brit experienced some ‘discomfort’ during his time in Rome.

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Three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray has delayed his return to competitive tennis after deciding to not play any more tournaments on the clay this year.

 

The former world No.1 has confirmed that he will not be playing at the French Open, according to multiple British media sources. Murray’s decision comes less than a week after he was in Rome training with some of the Tour’s top players. During one of his practice sessions in the Italian capital, he had a hit with world No.1 Novak Djokovic who said afterwards he was impressed by the current form of the Brit.

“I was very happy to see him. I haven’t seen him in a while, and it was great to hit with him. I thought he played very well on the court,” Djokovic told reporters last week.
“He moves well considering it’s clay which is not the best surface for his hips. But considering what he has been through lately, I think it seems like he’s been feeling well on the court. That’s what he’s saying, and that’s what it appears on the court itself.”

It is understood that Murray experienced some discomfort in Rome where he participated in the doubles tournament with Liam Broady after receiving a last-minute entry. It is unclear as to where the pain is located and how serious it is. Although it has been deemed significant enough for him to decline a wildcard into next week’s Geneva Open and pass on the French Open where he would have possibly had to play in the qualifying draw.

Murray will now switch his focus to the grass ahead of Wimbledon. He is currently scheduled to next play at The Queen’s Club where he has a contract to play there for the rest of his career. The tournament will start on June 14th with Murray saying he is looking forward to playing in front of a British crowd again. Under current restrictions, Queen’s will welcome 25% of its 9000-spectator capacity.

“It’s been such a difficult time for everyone and it will be great to play in front of home fans in Britain again,” said five-time champion Murray. “The tournament at Queen’s has always meant a lot to me – it’s where I won my first ATP match, I’ve won the singles at Queen’s more than any other in my career, and I’ll never forget our doubles title in 2019. I can’t wait to get back out there.”

34-year-old Murray has played just 11 Tour matches since winning the European Open in Antwerp back in 2019. He is currently ranked 123rd in the world.

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Novak Djokovic Outlasts Tsitsipas To Reach Rome Semis

Novak Djokovic survived a brutal test from Stefanos Tsitsipas to reach the semi-finals in Rome.

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Novak Djokovic (@WeAreTennis - Twitter)

Novak Djokovic survived Stefanos Tsitsipas over two days as a 4-6 7-5 7-5 win ensured his place in the last four of Rome.

 

The world number one came back from a set and a break down to ensure his place in the semi-finals in Rome.

It’s the second time in the space of a few weeks that Tsitsipas has lost to Djokovic and Nadal in three hour epic matches.

Next for Djokovic will be Lorenzo Sonego who beat Andrey Rublev 3-6 6-4 6-3 in his delayed quarter-final.

It was a bright start from Tsitsipas who was aggressive from the first ball and took the match to the world number one.

An early break helped settle the Greek down who was producing tennis of the highest from the baseline and at the net as he rushed Djokovic into errors.

That became a double break as the Serb was distracted by the rainy conditions as he couldn’t hit through Tsitsipas’s consistent defence.

After breaking back and consolidating after some nice combinational patterns of play, rain halted play for a few hours.

Once they came back it was Tsitsipas who continued to dictate the points to his favour and with accurate serving was able to close out the first set in in 51 minutes.

The start of the second set was no different, after both players held serve to love Tsitsipas grinded out a crucial break taking advantage of a lack of concentration from Djokovic.

However once again rain halted play and Djokovic had a whole night to figure out how to turn the match around as play was abandoned for the day.

As play resumed the next morning, Tsitsipas continued where he left off from yesterday as he was the aggressor dictating points and putting Djokovic under pressure.

That was until the eighth game as Djokovic raised his level and managed to make a lot of deep returns to cause Tsitsipas trouble.

Tsitsipas managed to save four break points with some clutch tactical serving and bold high-margin play.

On the fifth break point Djokovic finally punched a hole through Tsitsipas’ defence to level the set at 4-4 as he let out a huge roar.

The Greek remained valiant and produced a higher level of base play throughout the rest of the set as he earned two opportunities to break back.

However this time it was Djokovic’s turn to produce clutch serves and unlike Tsitsipas, the Serb held for 5-4.

Big moments were meant for big players and you can always rely on the world number one to produce those. A big final return game from Djokovic sealed with clever tactical played allowed him to break and let out another huge roar as he levelled this match at one set all.

In the final set, there was ball-striking of the highest quality as both players looked to out manoeuvre and out-hit each other.

The first break of the set went to Tsitsipas as Djokovic’s shot failed to reach the other side of the net as the Serb smashed his racket into the side barrier of the court.

After holding for a 3-1 lead, Tsitsipas looked to finish the match out as he had four opportunities for a double break lead.

A combination of erratic decisions and clutch serving from the world number one saw them saved as the Serb would hold on.

In typical Djokovic fashion he would break in the next game comfortably as this was turning out to be one of the best final sets of the season.

Tsitsipas would have the chance to close out the match after breaking for a 5-4 lead but the Serb’s court coverage was too good and he continued to hit insane returns for 5-5.

After 3 hours and 15 minutes of play over two days, Djokovic produced a near-perfect final game to deny Tsitsipas the win as he made his way into the semi-finals.

Next for the world number one will be Lorenzo Sonego on Saturday evening for a place in the final.

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French Open Chief: Roger Federer Would have Won Multiple French Open Titles If It Wasn’t For Nadal

Guy Forget also predicts how far the 39-year-old could go in the draw this year.

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The decision by Roger Federer to play at the French Open is the most logical step ahead of Wimbledon, according to tournament director Guy Forget.

 

The 20-time Grand Slam champion hasn’t played a competitive match on the surface since June 2019. Last year he missed most the season due to a right knee injury which required two surgical procedures, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic. So far this year he has only played in one tournament which was at the Qatar Open where he reached the semi-finals.

Federer will return to the court next week at the Geneva Open in his native Switzerland. It is the only event he will play before heading to Roland Garros. An event he had only played in once out of the past five editions. Forget, who is a former top 10 player himself, believes the match play is exactly what Federer needs.

“That Roger comes to play Roland Garros seems logical to me. This will allow him to play, and especially to test himself. Clay is a surface that requires you to be precise in your movements. The better Federer is at Roland Garros, the better he will be at Wimbledon,” he told reporters earlier this week.

The Swiss Maestro has only won the French Open once in his career which was back in 2009. Although he has reached the final on four other occasions. It was at the 1999 French Open where he made his main draw debut in a major at the age of 17. Overall, 11 out of Federer’s 103 ATP titles have been won on the clay.

However, Forget believes Federer would have won many more French Open titles if it wasn’t for the formidable Rafael Nadal. A player who has won more ATP trophies on the dirt than any other player in history, including 13 at the French Open alone.

“If Rafael Nadal hadn’t existed Federer would have had at least 5 or 6 titles at Roland, I’m sure of that.” Forget commented.
“Regarding this edition, I think it can happen that he could go into the second week.” He added.

Federer has lost to Nadal in all six of their meetings at the French Open – four times in the final and twice in the semi-finals. He trails their overall head-to-head 16-24.

The French Open will get underway on May 30th.

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