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Signs of Possible Match-Fixing in Wimbledon Men’s Doubles

Signs of Possible Match-Fixing in Wimbledon Men’s Doubles

Hours before the French Open draw in May, 84th-ranked Nicolás Kicker became the highest-ranked player (at time of conviction) to be found guilty of a match-fixing offense by the Tennis Integrity Unit, and he was removed from the tournament. A month later, Kicker’s penalty was announced as a $25,000 fine and six-year ban, with three of the years suspended on a probationary basis.

When the draw was made for Wimbledon this year and betting was opened on the match, Sousa and Mayer started out as slight underdogs. The odds drifted in their favor, slowly at first and then quickly. In a 45-minute stretch shortly before the match began, last-minute wagers pouring in moved Sousa and Mayer from roughly 7/9 to 4/9, or from a 56.5 percent chance of winning to 69 percent.

As the late money had seemed confident they would, Sousa and Mayer won the match, 7-6(6), 6-4, 6-7(7), 6-1.

Because unforced errors are a common part of any tennis match, reviewing video of the match is generally inconclusive. Marrero did serve for the first set up 6-5, but a series of unforced errors by him and Verdasco put the match back on serve. In the ensuing tiebreak, Verdasco hit consecutive double faults.

Marrero saved a match point with a dive volley in the third-set tiebreak, but the pair lost the fourth set quickly, in 27 minutes.

Wimbledon directed inquiries about the match to the Tennis Integrity Unit. Mark Harrison, spokesman for the group, said that “as an operational matter the TIU will not be making any comment,” keeping in line with the group’s refusal to confirm or comment on any specific match or person possibly under investigation.

“We do publish match alert statistics periodically, but they are anonymized in terms of the players and matches involved,” Harrison said.

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