A rather suspicious WTA match in Charleston, USA, tonight, where Victoria Azarenka retired hurt mid-match. Was it fixed? Was it just punters with information? Does the WTA policy on compelling players to play a certain number of lower-level events and penalising them for withdrawing bring this on?
Quotes from Tennisform, a site which runs an excellent injury and information ticker (subscription required).
17:58 Azarenka has drifted pre-match to 1.31 from 1.07 [125k traded]. EDIT: Azarenka went off at 1.43, with 168k traded, and continued to drift out to 1.65 before a ball was struck.
19:47 McHale advanced when Azarenka decided to quit with a thigh injury early in the second set. The Belarus drifted alarmingly prior to the match, and continued to drift throughout the match, and despite building a 6/2 *2/1 lead, she was still considered the underdog on Betfair, where the betting patterns were not unlike the infamous Davydenko/Vassallo match in Sopot. (Radio commentaries) "Azarenka wasn't making any mistakes in the first set but she played the match with her thigh strapped and called for the trainer at *2-1 in the second set. She began walking gingerly in the second set and decided to let everyone in the stadium know she was hurt." The match will be investigated and quite a few bookmakers have said they will withhold payment until it is cleared up. It's not the first time that Azarenka has been involved in a suspicious looking match. One or two bookmakers had cause for concern after her matches against Oprandi in Amelia Island in 2007, and Govortsova in Hobart, 2008. McHale 2/6 2/2 ret.
The pre-match betting tells the story. People knew ahead of the match, perhaps just from a public practice session. This was the same injury she retired last week with in Marbella - pretty silly to think she'd be over it so soon, especially with a trans-Atlantic flight involved. But the very suspicious part is that the market had her as the outsider even after she'd won the first set (assuming the comment was for all of the four games in the second set, and not just when she was being treated).
Let's see how this story grows in the next few days....