CHENNAI: The Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) has opened pre-investigation evaluations with regard to Sunday night’s first-round affair at the Winston-Salem Open between Alexandr Dolgopolov and Thiago Monteiro. Betting companies alerted TIU after peculiar patterns emerged hours before the contest, which Monteiro won 6-3, 6-3 in 55 minutes.
“The TIU was made aware of concerns over betting patterns during the match between Alexandr Dolgopolov and Thiago Monteiro at the ATP World Tour event in Winston-Salem,” a TIU statement said on Monday. “As with all match alerts, TIU will assess, make a judgement and take appropriate action on the information received through its co-operative agreements with betting operators.”
Further to that statement, the body, which came into focus after a massive report on fixing in the sport broke during the 2016 Australian Open, confirmed to Express that a preliminary investigation is underway. “TIU makes an assessment of all match alerts it receives from betting companies and gambling operators. This is a routine process of pre-investigation evaluation. As far as the match in question is concerned, TIU is saying the same thing.”
So what happened that raised red flags? Dolgopolov, a former World No 13, started the favourite and odds (between 1.2 and 1.4 on a number of betting companies) reflected that. Monteiro, who was yet to win a hard court contest at the ATP World Tour level, was the clear underdog (odds from 3.2). Two hours before the start, the odds began to change as money, strangely, started pouring in for Monteiro. The market shifted so much that the Ukrainian Dolgopolov, Roger Federer’s first round opponent at Wimbledon this year, drifted to 2.5 and beyond. Consequently, a win for Monteiro was trading at less than 1.5 before the match began (thousands of pounds would have to be traded to completely flip the odds).
It’s not unnatural for people to bet on the underdog but when massive amounts of money is bet favouring the underdog, that raises alarms. And that’s what happened some 30 minutes before the start. Bookies decided to either suspend or completely remove any mention of the contest from their websites.
The encounter in itself served up a few firsts which has aroused further suspicions. “Dolgopolov had not created a single break point chance on the Monteiro serve,” in the match as one prominent sports blogger pointed out. Moreover, Monteiro had “been broken 31 times on the surface in the seven career matches on the surface before today (Sunday),” observed the blogger. On Sunday, he was serving like a bot.