IS THE FIX IN?
Tennis this past Monday and Tuesday was featured on news shows across the globe, but not for the reasons you’d think – or want. Whistleblowers handed the BBC and Buzzfeed News documents from the ATP’s past efforts at catching players who collude with match-fixers to intentionally lose sets or matches to get paid on the side. No names have been named as of yet, but the tease includes 16 prominent players, including a Grand Slam winner. “We need to flag who these players are,” said ESPN commentator and former player Mary Joe Fernandez. “Hopefully because the world is watching, something will be done about it.” Since then the Tennis Integrity Unit has come under scrutiny for its lack of transparency, and an Italian newspaper accused world No. 1 Novak Djokovic of throwing a match in 2007. The ATP has denied any wrongdoing, as has Djokovic, and the tennis world waits to see if names will be named. “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” said ESPN commentator and former player Patrick McEnroe. “This is a major, major wake-up call for the world of tennis.” Andy Roddick on Twitter has been crowd-sourcing the potential list. “Text I got from another former tour pro, ‘We should see how many of the 16 betting guys we can name,'” he wrote. “I think I got at least 8-9.”
SHOW YOUR LOVE FOR TENNIS ON THE ROADWAYS
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Reuters reported that the city of Rio de Janeiro canceled the construction contract for the Olympic Tennis Center, leaving the facility unfinished with less than 200 days before the games…WTA player Kristyna Pliskova set a new women’s ace record with 31 in a losing effort at the Australian Open…Roger Federer says he hopes his two sets of twins don’t take up tennis…Get ready for the black-light tennis “Lights Out Tour”…Want to sit in a Porsche on court at ATP Delray Beach?…According to the International Business Times, British bookmakers report that tennis is now second in popularity among bettors only to soccer…While the news is hooked on match-fixing in tennis, Vanity Fair writes that the doping scandal could be even bigger…Andy Murray is sounding off against players not being able to take on gambling sites as sponsors, while tournaments (and the ITF governing body) can…How important is tennis and its many matches each year to gambling? The International Tennis Federation signed a five-year, $70 million deal with the Swiss-based data company Sportradar. By contrast Sportradar pays the NFL only about $5 million a year for its data, and Major League Baseball about $3.5 million…Watch the Lleyton Hewitt video tribute and pros offering accolades upon his retirement…On the TMI front, Andre Agassi revealed he played many of his pro matches wearing no underwear.
Six Americans Enter 1st Weekend at Australian Open
World No. 1 Serena Williams looked in peak form on Friday at the Australian Open, rolling over up-and-coming Russian Darya Kasatkina 6-1, 6-1 to move into the fourth round.
“Everything I’ve been trying to work on was kind of clicking today,” Williams said after the match. “I thought I played pretty well in the other matches, though.”
She will next meet another Russian, Margarita Gasparyan, before potentially facing Russian former No. 1 Maria Sharpaova in the quarterfinals.
Sharapova survived a scare Friday, needing three sets to get by American Lauren Davis in a first-time meeting 6-1, 6-7(5), 6-0.
The other three remaining American women will be on court tomorrow when No. 15 Madison Keys meets No. 20 seed and former No. 1 Ana Ivanovic, unseeded American Madison Brengle faces No. 7 Angie Kerber, and the U.S.’s Varvara Lepchenko meets China’s Shuai Zheng.
Both remaining American men will be in action on Saturday in Melbourne when No. 10 seed John Isner meets No. 18 Feliciano Lopez, and No. 31 Steve Johnson stares down No. 8 David Ferrer.
They Said It
“I would say it’s a pretty s****y start to the season. I let her back into the match, and it was basically my own fault.”
— Former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, speaking to the press after losing first round at the Australian Open
“Do I see myself playing at 38 as a quarterback? Not as a quarterback. I definitely don’t see myself — oh, my goodness. I just compared myself to a quarterback. Is that a compliment? Or not? I definitely don’t see myself playing at 38.”
— Maria Sharapova when asked if she could see herself playing when 38 years old, like New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady
Tennis on TV This Weekend
7-9pm — Australian Open (live), Tennis Channel
9pm-7am — Australian Open (live), ESPN2
7-9pm — Australian Open (live), Tennis Channel
9pm-6:30am — Australian Open (live), ESPN2