New betting controversy surfaces

Gambling on tennis is at the centre of a Times newspaper report from London this week, which claimed that only a week before the start of the world famous Wimbledon Tennis Championships, men's tennis is embroiled in fresh gambling revelations.

Several bookmakers have apparently voided bets on a grass-court match in the Netherlands on Monday when the odds on one player shortened from 5-6 to 1-5 and a four-figure sum was wagered on him to win by a mystery punter.

The moment that “unusual betting patterns” were charted in the first-round match at the Ordina Open in 's Hertogenbosch between Óscar Hernández, the world No 67 from Spain, and Daniel Köllerer, the Austrian ranked No 91, all bets were off and tennis authorities were alerted, The Times reports.

Hernández, the man whose odds were slashed and the only player on whom money was placed, won 6-3, 6-2.

It is understood that one bet - said to be in the region of GBP 4 000 - was placed on Hernández with UK gambling group William Hill by a backer whose identity was unknown to the bookmaker, immediately raising a red warning flag. “We are not suggesting there has been any skulduggery because we cannot know that,” Graham Sharpe, the head of media at William Hill, said. “But we had no option but to close the book on this match for our financial welfare.”

Tennis authorities are expected to call for a report from their Integrity Unit, which was established in the wake of a raft of suspicious matches, the most celebrated of which involved Nikolay Davydenko, of Russia, and Martín Vassallo Argüello, from Argentina, in Sopot, Poland, in August 2007. Betfair, the online gambling company, voided all bets after $7 million was wagered - ten times the usual amount - most of it on Vassallo Argüello, even after Davydenko won the first set. Both players were ultimately cleared of any suspicion of match-rigging.

Now Hernández and Köllerer will come under scrutiny. Both are in the main draw for Wimbledon.

Roger Federer, the president of the ATP players' council, responding to the news of another match causing concern, said: “It is never good for tennis when we hear of things like this and it is in the players' power to control what they do at all times. That is the message to get across.”

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