This year’s Australian Open tennis tournament was plagued by rumors of corruption.
In January, former Australian tennis star Nick Lindahl pleaded guilty to match-fixing. The prosecution stated that Lindahl had “offered to intentionally lose a match to a lower-ranked player” as recently as 2013.
The Lindahl controversy has had a massive impact on the sport, casting shade on several notable tournaments. Anthony Johnstone, Chairman of the Burnie International tournament, spoke to the press regarding allegations that corruption may have reached their matches. Johnstone told reporters: “as far as I’m aware it hasn’t happened here… I have no reason to think otherwise.”
Still, when it comes to match-fixing, it seems officials are just as much as in the dark as the general public. Unfortunately, these accusations are nothing new. Back in 2007 and 2009, former New York mob boss Michael Franzese told the media that “Tennis is very predictable and very easy to fix – you only need one person.”
In the wake of the trial, several sports gambling companies suspended betting. While no one can confirm or deny the existence of ongoing activities, the presence of heavy betting on minor matches has triggered a red flag for some analysts.
The confession, paired with fluctuations in regular gambling patterns, has caused widespread speculation. Several sources, including BBC, Buzzfeed and Yahoo, have note that as many as 16 top ranked players have been flagged by the Tennis Integrity Unit regarding potentially suspicious performances.
Though this may have started in Australia, there’s no doubt that some people will want to examine international competitions a little more closely from now on. In a world that’s seen both FIFA and the international track and field community brought down by accusations over the past year, it’s far too easy to believe that tennis tournaments could be as rigged. For fans, one can only hope that regulators can get this under control before a doubt ruins the sport’s reputation.