There's nothing like an end-of-season ATP event to bring out the crooked betting patterns. Throw in an Argentinian facing an eastern European and you have a recipe for disaster... or a perfect set-up, depending on which side of legality you are cheering for.
From the highly valuable subscription service, Tennisform
Zeballos came through in a highly suspicious 3 sets against Janko Tipsarevic, who judging by the pre match and in play betting on Betfair had no intention of winning. Tipsarevic drifted markedly in the Betfair market in the hour before the match started eventually going off the underdog and despite winning the opening set and appearing to be the better player in the second set he was still odds against with Zeballos trading at 1.25 prior to the start of the final set. Some bookies have reportedly voided the match. Tipsarevic said afterwards that he felt a pain in his back in yesterday’s doubles match and today things only worsened. "My opponent was trying to make me run from left to right, and I could not do this. That’s why I tried to play “serve’n’volley” which is so out of character for me," Tipsarevic said. "I have three more tournaments to play this season and I do want to be 100 % fit for the next one in St. Petersburg." (Forum extract) "Here the money clearly knew he was going to tank, even when he was winning." Zeballos 4/6 6/4 6/3.
After the match, Tipsarevic claimed on Twitter to have choked on the key points.
"Biggest choke EVER...All my life playing like shit when I defend the points(finals here last year)on the same week...sigh...no comment..."
Then said in the press conference he had been injured in a doubles match the previous day. "If it was another tournament, not the Kremlin Cup, then I have would have pulled out, but I really enjoy playing in Moscow" ... ""My opponent was trying to make me run from left to right, and I could not do this. That’s why I tried to play “serve’n’volley” which is so out of character for me," Tipsarevic said. "I have three more tournaments to play this season and I do want to be 100 % fit for the next one in St. Petersburg."
Pre-match, the Serb drifted from 1.18 (82% chance of winning) to 2.20 (45% chance) with strong liquidity, not just small chance. And it's not as if Tipsarevic has a clean record when it comes to dodgy tennis...
July 17, 2009 from Tennisform again. "Fears over match-fixing in men's tennis have surfaced for the third time in a month after "extreme movements" in betting patterns on a match between two top 100 players led to cancellation of markets and reports to the authorities. A flood of "unusual" money was placed on Spain's Oscar Hernandez, the world No 56, to beat Serbia's Janko Tipsarevic, the world No 79, in straight sets in the first round of the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart on Tuesday. High street firms including William Hill suspended betting, while Betfair reported "extreme movements" as abnormal sums were matched on Hernandez. The Spaniard won 6-4, 6-4. The match has been referred to the Gambling Commission and to the sport's in-house Tennis Integrity Unit for investigation. The case is at least the sixth in men's tennis in 2009 to be referred to the GC, the TIU or both."
For those who read this and aren't familiar with the betting elements here and how big an issue this is, here's the case against Tipsarevic:
1 - major drift in the betting against him just before the match.
2 - when he wins the first set, he is even more of an outsider. In a three-set match between two players priced fairly evenly, the winner of the first set should move from 2.0 into around 1.33. Instead, Zeballos who started the match at around 1.8, got shorter after LOSING the first set and then shortened dramatically into 1.25 for the start of the final set. If the match was so even, then it would be reasonable to expect Zeballos would only be a marginal favourite.
3 - ooh, I choked. What a cop-out.
4 - bookmakers aren't stupid. Most suspicious betting comes from the same sources - accts they watch very closely and use as their warning system. When these guys get involved when the odds aren't logical, something is up.
5 - he has a history of such scams, and nothing was done about it.
If it was betting people knowing he was injured pre-match, then the fluctuations wouldn't have been so severe during the match. Sometimes it happens that a player isn't as hurt as they thought and can play a lot better. The evidence is very compelling that it was lot more than that. Betfair continued to trade throughout, with significantly higher volumes than usual, and if called upon, their data will be shared with the ATP and Tennis Integrity Unit. But if past events are anything to go by, nothing will happen. The ATP love getting involved in suspending players for six months for placing €5 bets, but when a genuinely fraudulent match comes up, they crap themselves....
UPDATE - Two hours after the 'choked' tweet, Tipsarevic had obviously been copping some abuse on Twitter..
"Hmmm...Should I really keep this Twitter accout (sic)..."
Oh, and if you think this is an isolated event because I haven't reported one for a while - don't be fooled. It just gets stale after a while....
Here's a link to the in-running odds early in the second set. At that point of the match (Zeballos one set down but a break up) the odds should have reverted to roughly what they were at the start of the match.