Australian Open

'Kelong' in tennis: Easy to fix, hard to prove

A packed Rod Laver Arena with the skyline of Melbourne, at the Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament on Jan 18, 2016.
A packed Rod Laver Arena with the skyline of Melbourne, at the Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament on Jan 18, 2016.PHOTO: EPA

SYDNEY • Big financial incentives for gamblers, small tournaments of little consequence to top players and the ease of fixing the outcome of a one-on-one sport have helped turn world tennis into a haven for match-fixers, according to experts and industry insiders.

Sources told Reuters that the revelation was no surprise for out of the spotlight at small tournaments around the world, the temptations are obvious and malfeasance very difficult to prove.

Steve Georgakis, a senior lecturer at the University of Sydney, who is researching match-fixing in tennis, said that while favourites usually win big tournaments, at a small tournament, especially one that is not televised, how could anyone prove that a top-50 player did not lose because they were exhausted or injured.

A highly ranked player is almost certain to be the odds-on favourite to win in these small tournaments and thus has the greatest opportunity to make money by intentionally losing to an outmatched player, handing a big payoff to those behind the fix.

"It's a one-on-one sport and what you do is, you're the favourite and you get a few other people to load up on the other player to win and then you throw the match. And you can never get caught," Georgakis added.

Betting on tennis is relatively simple and comes with enormous potential payoffs, a professional tennis gambler said. Many bookmakers have created disincentives to bet point-by-point or game-by-game with limits on those types of bets, pushing gamblers towards the payoffs for a winning bet on the overall match.

"Say you want to throw a game but win the match, why would you bother? You can only win a couple of thousand of dollars," the gambler said.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 19, 2016, with the headline ''Kelong' in tennis: Easy to fix, hard to prove'. Print Edition | Subscribe