REPORT: Top 30 Player Linked To 'Unique' International Match-Fixing Scandal - UBITENNIS
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REPORT: Top 30 Player Linked To ‘Unique’ International Match-Fixing Scandal

More than 100 tour professionals in total have been linked to the illegal ring, which is reportedly being run by the mafia.

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An FBI investigation is underway into a new match-fixing scandal that has taken place across as many as seven different countries, according to German media sources.

 

Public-service broadcaster ZDF has obtained information about an illegal network linked to the Armenian betting network. Bearing a resemblance to a separate match-fixing investigation linked to a criminal gang in the country back in January. It is reported that 135 professional players have been caught up in the latest incident, but none of those have been named. However, the FBI has already been in contact with the Belgian authorities.

“This is about the Armenian betting mafia network that has spread across seven countries in Europe and has been highly intelligent and cheated on a large scale.” Belgium’s Attorney General, Eric Bisschop, told ZDF.
“Not only the dimension is unique, but also the system of betting manipulators. Hundreds of small amounts were sometimes bet on manipulated games, in close consultation with the tennis professionals on the court. In total, every manipulation would result in tens of thousands of euros.’

It has been confirmed that a top 30 player on the men’s tour is one of those implicated in the scandal. His name hasn’t been revealed, however, he has reportedly won three titles on the ATP Tour. Based on information provided by ZDF and newspaper Welt. It is unclear as to how the player is linked to the investigation and what charges he has been accused of (if any).

A German player has confirmed the illegal operation to investigators. Hence why the story has been broken in Germany first. That person is said to not be one of the country’s top players. Investigations are ongoing in Spain, Belgium, France and America. It is speculated that the Armenian mafia is involved.

“This mafia is very structured, it has people who are responsible for the accounts, others who wash the money and those who make contact with the players.” Said Bisschop.

In recent years tennis’ governing bodies have pledged to combat match-fixing after a joint-report by the BBC/Buzzfeed News in January 2016 alleged that the sport had a problem with corruption. A report by the International Betting Integrity Association confirmed they were notified of 72 suspicious matches during the first three quarters of 2019. However, that was a 40% reduction compared to 2018 when the had a total of 121 alerts during the same period.

Besides Belgium’s Attorney General, no other country have publicly commented on the match-fixing investigation.

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Australian Open Day 11 Preview: Will Roger Federer Pose A Threat To Djokovic?

With scorching hot temperatures on Thursday, who will survive and advance to the finals?

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Both women’s semifinals will be decided during the day session, during the hottest time of the day. They feature three Major champions who are yet to win a Slam on hard courts, and a 21-year-old American new to this stage. Following four straight-set women’s quarterfinals, we are due for some drama today. The first men’s semifinal will be played in this evening, and it will be the 50th career meeting between two of the sport’s all-time greats.

 

Ash Barty (1) vs. Sofia Kenin (14)

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The Australian No.1 continues to impress, as she successfully copes with the pressure of high expectations at her home Slam. While Ash appeared a bit edgy at times on Tuesday against Petra Kvitova, it did not significantly impact her play. She’s now into her second Major semifinal, and will have the experience edge against her opponent. Barty also owns a 4-1 record over Kenin, will all those matches taking place within the last two years. But Sofia’s only win came on a similarly-paced hard court last summer in Canada. And Kenin has quickly proven herself to be one of the WTA’s toughest competitors, and does not give her opposition many easy points. However, I could see Sofia being a little overwhelmed by this occasion, and at times she can get a bit down on herself. With the edge in experience, more variety in her game, and the boisterous Aussie crowd behind her, Barty should be favored to reach her second Major final.

Simona Halep (4) vs. Garbine Muguruza

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Each of these women have won Majors on clay and grass, and are now vying for their first hard court Slam. And they have been the two most impressive WTA players during this fortnight. Halep is yet to drop a set, and many have remarked on how positive she has remained on court through five rounds. But her composure should be thoroughly tested today, by a rejuvenated Muguruza who is back to playing with the focus and determination that won her two Majors. Muguruza dropped sets in her first two matches while she was battling a virus, but has cleanly advanced through her last three rounds against three seeded players. Their last meeting was also in the semifinal of a Slam, at the 2018 French Open. Halep comfortably prevailed on that day 6-1, 6-4. The hot conditions today should favor Garbine’s power, though Simona’s stamina could become an advantage the longer the match goes. And I do expect this to be an extended affair. In what should be a tight contest, I give the slight edge to the speed, endurance, and positivity of Halep.

Novak Djokovic (2) vs. Roger Federer (3)

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Djokovic leads their head-to-head 26-23, and has won nine of their last 12 meetings. Their last encounter at a Major was the best match of 2019: the first Wimbledon final to be decided by a final set tiebreak at 12-12. Djokovic prevailed that day thanks to winning three tiebreak sets, and despite winning less points overall. Federer would get a small dose of revenge a few months ago in the same city, when he defeated Novak in the round robin stage of the ATP Finals. But Federer comes into this match at much less than 100%, and is frankly lucky to still be in this tournament. He came back from an 8-4 deficit in the final set tiebreak against John Millman in the third round, and then somehow saved seven match points against Tennys Sandgren two days ago. Roger appeared to be dealing with multiple injury issues on Tuesday, and will only have 48 hours to try to recover and heal. While Federer has notched some wins over Djokovic of late in best-of-three matches, he hasn’t beaten Novak at a Major since 2012. And he hasn’t defeated Djokovic at a hard court Major since 2009. Roger is a meek (by his high standards) 7-7 in Australian Open semifinals, while Novak has never lost in a semifinal or final in Melbourne. Djokovic is a heavy favorite to reach his eighth championship match down under.

Order of play

Rod Laver Arena

From 00:00am
I. Dodig (4)/F. Polasek (4) v M. Purcell/L. Saville

Not before 3:00am
A. Barty (1) v S. Kenin (14)

 Not before 4:30am
S. Halep (4) v G. Muguruza

From 8:30am
R. Federer (3) v N. Djokovic (2)
TBA v TBA (Legends)

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Dominic Thiem Ousts Rafael Nadal For Maiden Australian Open Semi-Final

Dominic Thiem edged out world number one Rafael Nadal in four sets to reach his first Australian Open semi-final.

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Dominic Thiem (@AustralianOpen - Twitter)

Dominic Thiem edged out Rafael Nadal 7-6(3) 7-6(4) 4-6 7-6(6) to reach the Australian Open semi-finals for the first time. 

 

In a stunning performance, Thiem eventually held his nerve to win all three tiebreaks in the match and secure a place in the last four.

The result means Nadal will lose his world number one if Novak Djokovic can win an eighth Australian Open title in Melbourne.

As for the Austrian, he will meet Alexander Zverev in the semi-finals on Friday.

In a rematch of the Roland Garros final, it was Thiem who had the more aggressive start to the match as he was red-lining the ball across the court and created break point opportunities.

Nadal’s clutch serving remained crucial though to survive the Austrian’s early surge. This was important as Nadal would soon show why he has won 20 grand slam titles as he played his best tennis when it mattered.

A good mix of pace and variety troubled Thiem as the Spaniard earned the first break of the match for a 5-3 lead in the opening set.

Despite the early setback, the Austrian continued to raise his level especially on the backhand side, producing a lot of winners. A forehand return winner sealed the break back immediately on his third opportunity.

Both men would continue to cancel each other out with insane cross-court angles as the opening set went to a tiebreak.

Dominating from the baseline, the 5th seed took control and wrapped up the opening set 7-6(3) in 68 gruelling minutes.

In the second set, Nadal continued to be the aggressor especially on the forehand as he realised how crucial the set was going to be.

An increased amount in unforced errors for Thiem proved costly as the world number one opened up a 4-2 lead in the second set.

But once again, Thiem struck back as a loose and nervy game from the Spaniard saw the Austrian level up at 4-4 in a tense point in the match.

Another tiebreak loomed as Thiem failed to take his chances after Nadal’s uncharacteristic unforced errors. However he didn’t make the same mistakes in the tiebreak as a net cord-forehand combination secured three consecutive points and a two set lead.

A two set advantage was a comfortable lead for Thiem but it doesn’t guarantee victory especially against one of the best competitors tennis has ever seen.

A cleaner set was produced from Nadal as he dug in deep to hold his service games and create some opportunities to break especially off the forehand.

Eventually those opportunities came as a tentative Thiem service game saw Nadal create two set points. A netted baseline shot from the world number 5 saw the Spaniard grab the third set as he roared in delight to the packed Rod Laver Arena crowd.

The momentum was now firmly with Nadal, who had better intensity as the forehand was firing against Thiem’s defensive skills.

However the Austrian’s mental strength has improved and he managed to overcome the Nadal storm by saving two break points as well as gaining the immediate break advantage.

There was trouble for the world number one now as Thiem’s serve was improving as he continued to outsmart and outpower the Spaniard.

Threats of a double break were quickly snuffed out by the 2009 champion and that would soon cost Thiem as he couldn’t serve out the match. The world number one took advantage of the Austrian’s nerves to break for 5-5.

Both men held their nerve afterwards to force a fourth set tiebreak, the third of the day. Yet again it would be Thiem who would win the tie-break as he booked his place in a maiden Australian Open semi-final.

After the match, Thiem declared his delight at one of the biggest victories of his career, “All the match was on a very good level, we both were in great form, that’s what can happen with two players in that form,” the Austrian said in his post-match interview.

I felt I was lucky in the right situations. It’s necessary as he’s one of the greatest of all times, one of the biggest legends in this sport, so you need a little luck to beat him.”

It was a stunning performance which now sees him meet good friend Alexander Zverev for a place in the final. As for Nadal his search for a second Australian Open title continues and could still lose his world number one ranking should Novak Djokovic win his eighth title in Melbourne.

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Australian Open Day 5 Preview: Five Must-See Matches

Friday will be highlighted by two of the sport’s brightest young stars meeting for the second consecutive Major.

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At the US Open last summer, Naomi Osaka easily dispatched of 15-year-old Coco Gauff. But it’s what happened after the match that warmed the hearts of the tennis world. Seeing her younger opponent was upset after the loss, Osaka encouraged Gauff to join her for the post-match interview, in a touching display of kindness. Five months later, Is Coco ready to compete with Naomi? That’s only one of many appetizing third round matches today. Serena Williams, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Ash Barty, and the retiring Caroline Wozniacki will also be in action.

 

Naomi Osaka (3) vs. Coco Gauff

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Gauff only managed to take three games from Osaka in New York. And she struggled at times against Sorana Cirstea two days ago, squeaking out a victory 7-5 in the third. But I think she’ll be much more ready for the challenge of playing Osaka today. Since their US Open match, Gauff won her first title in Linz, and spent time training in the offseason with Serena Williams. However, no one has played better since the US Open than Osaka. She’s won 16 of her last 17 matches, claiming titles in both Osaka and Beijing. While I expect a more competitive match between these two today, Naomi remains the favorite.

Stefanos Tsitsipas (6) vs. Milos Raonic (32)

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Both men should be fully fresh for their first career meeting. Neither has dropped a set through two rounds, and Tsitsipas received a walkover on Wednesday as Philipp Kohlschreiber retired with a back injury. The 29-year-old Canadian has battled a plethora of injuries throughout his career, and again missed significant time in 2019. But he’s managed to perform very well at this event despite the injuries, reaching the quarterfinals or better in four of the last five years. While Tsitsipas is coming off the biggest title of his career at the ATP Finals, he went just 1-2 at the ATP Cup, and is only 1-3 in his last four matches at Majors. In what could easily become an extended affair, I’m tipping Raonic to continue serving well and pull off the slight upset.

Roberto Bautista Agut (9) vs. Marin Cilic

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This is a rematch from last year’s Australian Open, which Bautista Agut won in four hours and five sets. That was the third of three five-set wins for the Spaniard here a year ago, as he also outlasted Andy Murray and John Millman. That was the start of Roberto’s best season to date, reaching the quarterfinals here and the semifinals at Wimbledon. By contrast, 2019 was Cilic’s worst season since his drug suspension in 2013. Marin has crumbled in pressure situations all too often, though he showed some great grit by taking out Benoit Paire in a fifth set tiebreak on Wednesday. But that had to take a lot out of Cilic, and he’s now faced with one of the ATP’s strongest competitors. Bautista Agut has won his last 10 matches, dating back to the Davis Cup in November. He should be favored to extend his winning streak to 11.

Petra Kvitova (7) vs. Ekaterina Alexandrova

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It’s the 2019 finalist against one of the hottest players on tour. The 25-year-old Alexandrova is on a 12-match winning streak, including her ITF title run last month at Limoges and her first WTA-level title two weeks ago in Shenzhen. She’s now the Russian No.1, and looking to reach the fourth round of a Major for the first time. Kvitova survived a tight match two days ago against another up-and-coming player, Paula Badosa of Spain. Petra fought through hot and windy conditions in that match, and she’ll be pleased to find the weather cooler and calmer today. In their first career meeting, Kvitova should be able to control play and advance to the Australian Open round of 16 for the fourth time.

Roger Federer (3) vs. John Millman

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At the 2018 US Open, Millman took advantage of Federer’s suffering in extremely hot and muggy conditions, defeating Roger in four sets. That victory propelled the 30-year-old Millman to his first Major quarterfinal. John would struggle mightily over the next 12 months under the weight of new expectations, but finally rediscovered some confidence after last year’s US Open. He won a challenger event in Taiwan, and was a finalist at the ATP event in Tokyo. And Millman already has six match wins in 2020, with notable victories over Felix Auger Aliassime and Karen Khachanov. All that being said, he’ll still be a considerable underdog against the 20-time Major singles champion. Federer took both of their other previous meetings, and looked extremely sharp in his first two matches here. As Chris Fowler of ESPN highlighted, Roger has broken his opponent’s serve at the beginning of all six sets he’s played this week. Despite the lack of a warmup event, Federer is in fine form, and should advance comfortably against an opponent like Millman who does not possess any big weapons.

Other notable matches on Day 5:

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  • Serena Williams (8), who displayed intense anger with her form on Wednesday, vs. Qiang Wang (27), who lasted only 44 minutes against Serena at last year’s US Open in a 6-1, 6-0 pummeling.
  • Novak Djokovic (2), who lead Serbia to the ATP Cup two weeks ago, vs. Yoshihito Nishioka, who has reached the third round of a Major for the first time.
  • Australian Ash Barty (1) vs. Russian teenager Elena Rybakina (29), who won a total of 57 matches at all levels last season.
  • Diego Schwartzman (14) vs. Dusan Lajovic (24). When they played in Melbourne two years ago, Schwartzman survived 11-9 in the fifth.
  • Caroline Wozniacki, who pulled off impressive comebacks in both sets against Dayana Yastremska in the second round, vs. Ons Jabeur, who loves utilizing the slice against her opponents.

Order of play

Rod Laver Arena

A. Barty (1) versus E. Rybakina (29) Women’s Singles 3rd Round
Q. Wang (27) versus S. Williams (8) Women’s Singles 3rd Round
Y. Nishioka versus N. Djokovic (2) Men’s Singles 3rd Round
N. Osaka (3) versus C. Gauff Women’s Singles 3rd Round
J. Millman versus R. Federer (3) Men’s Singles 3rd Round

Margaret Court Arena

D. Schwartzman (14) versus D. Lajovic (24) Men’s Singles 3rd Round
E. Alexandrova (25) versus P. Kvitova (7) Women’s Singles 3rd Round
M. Keys (10) versus M. Sakkari (22) Women’s Singles 3rd Round
S. Tsitsipas (6) versus M. Raonic (32) Men’s Singles 3rd Round
S. Zhang versus S. Kenin (14) Women’s Singles 3rd Round

Melbourne Arena

L. Hewitt (WC) J. Thompson (WC) versus J. Nam (WC) M. Song (WC) Men’s Doubles 1st Round
O. Jabeur versus C. Wozniacki Women’s Singles 3rd Round
M. Cilic versus R. Bautista Agut (9) Men’s Singles 3rd Round
G. Pella (22) versus F. Fognini (12) Men’s Singles 3rd Round

1573 Arena

D. Jakupovic R. Olaru versus T. Babos (2) K. Mladenovic (2) Women’s Doubles 1st Round
M. Fucsovics versus T. Paul Men’s Singles 3rd Round
A. Riske (18) versus J. Goerges Women’s Singles 3rd Round
T. Sandgren versus S. Querrey Men’s Singles 3rd Round

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