Prosecutors Investigate French Open Doubles Match for Fixing After Receiving Alert

Posted on: October 7, 2020, 10:49h. 

Last updated on: October 7, 2020, 02:34h.

Local authorities have begun an investigation of match-fixing in the French Open, according to L’Equipe, the country’s daily sports publication.

French Open match fixing
Authorities in Paris are investigating whether the outcome of a doubles match featuring Yana Sizikova, seen here playing in Bogota two years ago, was influenced by abnormal betting. (Image: NIM Management/Facebook)

Prosecutors started the investigation last week. They are paying particular attention to a women’s doubles first-round match pitting Romanians Andreea Mitu and Patricia Maria Tig against American Madison Brengle and Russian Yana Sizikova.

Authorities have been told a significant amount of money was bet on the Romanians breaking their opponents’ serve in one game in the second set. That game featured multiple double faults by Sizikova, and Mitu-Tig swept through that game without losing a point.

That break helped the Romanians win the match 7-6, 6-4.

Jean-Francois Vilotte, the director general of French Tennis Foundation, did not disclose that match as being under review, but told the French paper they received an alert, as foreign sportsbooks detected an abnormal betting pattern.

I have often pointed out that there is no sanctuary when it comes to match-fixing,” he said. “We must be vigilant, process information, cooperate.”

Vilotte did tell L’Equipe that the allegation makes officials think about what kinds of bets they should authorize moving forward.

Tennis Organizations Created Anti-Corruption Unit

Over a decade ago, officials with the major organizing bodies in tennis, including the French Open, came together to form the Tennis Integrity Unit, which has investigative power within the sport to investigate claims of match-fixing and other forms of corruption.

The TIU also works with players on the men’s and women’s tours to educate them on how to identify when they’re being groomed or propositioned for match-fixing. Players also learn how they can report such instances.

Like other major sporting organizations around the world, the organizations that run the international tours take upholding the sport’s integrity seriously. Those found guilty of match-fixing can face lifetime bans from the sport and fines as high as $250,000.

Last week, the body announced an unranked Spanish player was the first to be convicted of “courtsiding,” or relaying live scoring data to an outside party for betting purposes. It also found Gerard Joseph Platero Rodriguez made 75 bets on the sport, which is prohibited.

The 25-year-old was suspended for four years and fined $15,000. Six months of the ban will be suspended if Rodriguez does not commit any other violations.

The TIU declined to speak on the French Open allegations.

“All of the TIU’s operational work is carried out in confidence,” TIU Head of Communications Mark Harrison told on Wednesday.

French Open Action Wraps Up This Weekend

The action at Roland Garros wraps up this weekend. The women’s singles semifinals take place tomorrow to determine the matchup for Saturday’s final. The men’s semis will be held on Friday to determine Sunday’s championship.

The French Open is typically the second of the sport’s Grand Slam events every year, but the COVID-19 crisis forced its postponement by four months. Some top players on both the men’s and women’s tours also opted out of playing this year.

On the men’s side, second-seeded Rafael Nadal is the favorite at FanDuel to win what would be an astounding 13th French Open singles title. His odds are -140, with top-seeded Novak Djokovic at +170. On the women’s side, unseeded Iga Swiatek is now the favorite to win, with odds at +135. The Polish teen dominated in her fourth-round match against the top seed Simona Halep, winning the match 6-1, 6-2. Petra Kvitova is the second choice at +175.

American Sofia Kenin, who faces Kvitova in the semis, is offered at +440, and Argentina’s Nadia Podoroska, the first qualifier to reach the French semis, is at +1400.