How Two Top 50 Players Accused Of Match-Fixing Have Responded To The Allegations - UBITENNIS
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How Two Top 50 Players Accused Of Match-Fixing Have Responded To The Allegations

The players have been accused of trying to fix matches with a former coach who worked with each of them at some stage.

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Aslan Karatsev - image via https://twitter.com/MallorcaChamps/

On the same day as the men’s Wimbledon final, an investigation published by German publication ZDF accused two top players and a coach of being involved in widespread match-fixing. 

Nikolaz Basilashvili and former Australian Open semi-finalist Aslan Karatsev have been accused of breaking anti-corruption rules along with their former Belarussian coach Yahor Yatsyk. According to ZDF, five matches involving Karatsev had unusual betting patterns, two of those occurred when he was working with Yatsyk. The two had previously been questioned by French police over the matter but at present no further action has been taken. Furthermore, Karatsev’s former girlfriend, Sofia Dmitrieva, has already been banned for match-fixing. 

As for Georgia’s Basilashvili, it is claimed that the ITIA is already investigating him. Although this hasn’t been confirmed by the organization. Suspicious betting patterns emerged over a doubles match at Wimbledon he played in 2021 alongside Radu Albot. Albot is not suspected of being involved in match-fixing.

In wake of these serious accusations which in the worst-case scenario could result in a lifetime ban from the sport if found guilty, how have the players and their teams responded? 

Karatsev was questioned about the ZDF article by the media outlet Metaratings.ru. In a very brief response, the world No.40 said he was unaware of the news. However, he didn’t directly comment on those allegations.

“I haven’t heard anything about it. I don’t know what you are talking about,” Karatsev told Metaratings.ru.

There was more of a response given by Karatsev’s father Kazbek who told RIA Novosti that he is aware that Yatsyk was suspected of match-fixing. Although dismissed the idea that his son is also involved by arguing that the two haven’t worked together for over a year. Even though ZDF points out that two suspicious matches involving Karatsev occurred when he was coached by the Belarussian. 

“This is the first time I hear about it. This simply cannot be. I know that Yatsyk was already suspected of fixed matches in 2020. But what about Aslan? They haven’t worked together for over a year,” said Kazbek
“I don’t even know where such information could come from, it became interesting to myself. Maybe some kind of provocation. But Aslan is very calm, he does not bother anyone. I haven’t been able to talk to him about this yet. He has a tournament now, and before the games we usually do not call each other so that he is less worried.”

As for Basilashvili, he said during an interview with Europop.ge that there is no need to comment on what he describes as ‘nonsense.’ Denying that he has been involved in any form of match-fixing. Basilashvili has been ranked as high as 16th in the world and has won five ATP titles. 

“And should I comment on this nonsense? How many times have they written such things about me, have I ever been justified (convicted)?” He said. 

There have also been responses from two tennis federations. The president of the Russian Tennis Federation (RTF) Shamil Tarpischev claims if Karatsev had committed any wrongdoing he would have been informed by now. That is disputed as the ITIA doesn’t have to contact a player’s federation during an investigation unless it is relevant to their proceedings. 

Funny situation. If there is something official, then it can be discussed. And so, this is a tabloid chronicle, it’s even ridiculous to discuss, you never know who says what. And besides, this is 2019-2020, if there was something, we would have been informed long ago. And no one told us anything,” Tarpischev told Sport Express. 

Finally, there has been little said from Yatsyk’s camp except that of the Belarussian Tennis Federation who interestingly appear eager to distance themselves from the coach. 

“I would like to note that Yegor Yatsyk, the former mentor of Karatsev, is not a member of the Belarusian Tennis Federation. As a former athlete, I condemn the actions of athletes in any sport related to match-fixing and betting. I share the position of the authorities of all countries in the world that are fighting this evil,” BTF chairman Sergei Rutenko told rt.com

Both Basilashvili and Karatsev are playing this week at the Swedish Open. Basilashvili retired from his first round match after trailing by a set and 0-3 but Karatsev won his encounter with Lorenzo Sonego. 

NOTE: All of the above statements were originally said in the person’s native language and have been translated into English as accurately as possible. 

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Daniil Medvedev Targets French Open Breakthrough After Rome Disappointment

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Credit Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis

Daniil Medvedev believes there will be more title contenders at the French Open than previous editions with the Russian hoping to be one of them. 

The world No.4 heads into the Grand Slam after what has been a mixed clay swing. Medvedev suffered a third round defeat in Monte Carlo before bouncing back in Madrid where he reached the quarter-finals before retiring from his match with a minor injury. Meanwhile, at this week’s Italian Open, his title defence came to an end in the fourth round on Tuesday when he fell 6-1, 6-4, to Tommy Paul. 

“Mentally I had to be much better,” Medvedev said of his latest performance.
“I started to calm myself down and focus on the match only at the end of the match, and it was too late. I had to do better. I was expecting myself to play better.’
“It’s disappointing, but that’s how sport is. You lose and you go for the next tournament, which is a pretty important one.” He added. 

28-year-old Medvedev recently stated that he is seeing improvements in his game when it comes to playing on the clay. A surface which he has struggled on during stages of his career. Out of the 38 ATP Finals he has contested, only two of those were on the clay. Barcelona in 2019 when he finished runner-up and Rome last year which he won. 

As for the French Open, he has lost in the first round on five out of seven appearances. But did reach the quarter-finals in 2021 and the last 16 the following year. So could 2024 be his year?

“Now it’s maybe a little bit more open than it was ever before,” he said of this year’s event. 
“Good for me, too, because usually in Roland Garros I don’t play that well. The more open it is, the better it is for me.”

All of the top three players on the men’s tour are currently experiencing problems. Novak Djokovic crashed out of the Italian Open and recently underwent a medical assessment after getting hit in the head by a bottle in a freak accident. Jannik Sinner is reportedly on the verge of withdrawing from the French Open due to a hip issue and Carlos Alcaraz has been hindered by a forearm injury in recent weeks. 

“I’m feeling much better on clay,” Medvedev commented. “What is tough for me on clay sometimes is getting used to conditions. Every court – in every tournament in the world – is a bit different.
“On hard courts it’s the same: every court is different. On hard courts I have this ability to kind of quite fast get used to it. On clay, I need more time.”

Medvedev aims to become only the second Russian man in history to win the French Open after Yevgeny Kafelnikov in 1996. The tournament will begin a week on Sunday. 

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Stefanos Tsitsipas Says Expanded Masters Events ‘Playing A Massive Role’ In Player Injuries

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Credit Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis

Stefanos Tsitsipas has slammed the decision to extend the length of Masters 1000 tournaments to two weeks by warning that more injuries could occur in the future as a result. 

This week’s Rome Masters is taking place without two out of the world’s top three players. Jannik Sinner pulled out of his home event due to a hip injury and Carlos Alcaraz has been troubled by a forearm issue in recent weeks. Other players missing from the draw include Tomas Machac (Illness), Ugo Humbert (Left Knee) and Stan Wawrinka (Right Wrist). 

The tournament is taking place immediately after the Madrid Open which is also a Masters event that has been expanded to a two-week format in recent years. Supporters of the move argue that a bigger draw provides lower-ranked players with more opportunities to play in these events whilst others will have a day off between matches. 

However, world No.8 Tsitsipas isn’t completely happy with the schedule which he openly criticised on Monday following his 6-2, 7-6(1), win over Cameron Norrie. The Greek has won 12 out of 14 matches played on clay so far this season. 

“It’s a type of thing that hurt the sport a little bit, to have these types of things happen to the highest of the players,” Tsitsipas commented on his rival’s injuries.
“Without them, the show is not kind of the same. You have obviously the guys behind them (in the rankings). These kinds of tournaments deserve names like this to be playing and have the opportunity to play in front of these big stadiums and crowds.
“I’ve spoken about the fact that the schedule has a big toll on our bodies. It starts from the mental side, and it follows to the physical side. The extension of the days in the Masters 1000s I think plays a massive role and contributes a lot to the fact that these players are getting injured.”

The ATP’s extended format is set to be applied to seven out of the nine Masters 1000 tournaments from 2025. The only two yet to make or plan for such changes are Monte Carlo and Paris. However, Tsitsipas has called for changes to be made to the schedule.

“It was perhaps already a lot the way it was before with the seven-day events. Adding more days to that, well, you got to be some type of superhero to be consistent back-to-back 10 days in each event getting to the very end of it.” He commented.
“It’s not a very easy thing to do. Some people need to try it first to get an understanding and how it is to pull that off. Then they should make decisions based on that.
“I think this is not going to be the first time we see these types of things (player injuries). If these types of things continue with the same schedule not being adjusted or customized to the needs of the players, we might see more of these things occur in the future.”

It is not the first time a player has raised concerns about the extended format. Alexander Zverev previously said that the schedule is a disadvantage for the top players. Meanwhile, on the women’s Tour Caroline Garcia has criticised the move to expand WTA 1000 tournaments whilst Maria Sakkari said achieving the Madrid-Rome double has become harder to do

On the other hand, Daniil Medvedev has spoken in favour of the new format and describes injuries on the Tour as ‘part of the sport.’ The former US Open believes the issue is related to the quick surface changes players face and not the duration of tournaments. 

Tsitsipas will play Alex de Minaur in the fourth round of the Italian Open on Tuesday. 

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Novak Djokovic To Undergo Medical Check After Rome Thrashing, Bottle Incident

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Novak Djokovic – ATP Roma 2024 (foto: Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis)

Novak Djokovic has indicated that he will speak to doctors following his lacklustre performance at the Italian Open where he crashed out in straight sets. 

The five-time champion was far from his best against Chile’s Alejandro Tabilo as he struggled to generate any rhythm in his tennis or a single break point opportunity. Djokovic’s below-par performance caught many off guard, including the tennis player himself who admitted afterwards that he was ‘completely off’ his game. 

Trying to find the reason behind his latest performance, the world No.1 isn’t ruling out the possibility that it might be linked to an incident that took place at the tournament two days ago. Following his win over France’s Corentin Moutet, Djokovic suffered a blow to his head after a fan accidentally dropped a metal bottle from the stands. Immediately afterwards, he experienced nausea, dizziness and bleeding for up to an hour but was checked by medical officials.

“I don’t know, to be honest. I have to check that.” Djokovic replied when asked if the incident affected his form on Sunday.
“Training was different. I was going for kind of easy training yesterday. I didn’t feel anything, but I also didn’t feel the same.
“Today under high stress, it was quite bad – not in terms of pain, but in terms of this balance. Just no coordination. Completely different player from what it was two nights ago.
“It could be. I don’t know. I have to do medical checkups and see what’s going on. “

The tennis star said he managed to sleep fine after his head blow but did experience headaches. He looked to be in good spirits the day after it happened and even turned up to practice in Rome wearing a safety helmet.

Djokovic’s concerns come two weeks before the start of the French Open where he is seeking a record 25th Major title. He will undoubtedly be one of the contenders for glory but admits there is a lot of work that needs to be done in the coming days. 

“Everything needs to be better in order for me to have at least a chance to win it,” he said.
“The way I felt on the court today was just completely like a different player entered into my shoes. Just no rhythm, no tempo, and no balance whatsoever on any shot.
“It’s a bit concerning.”

The French Open will begin on Sunday 26th May. 

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