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Match-fixing fears at Australian Open after suspicious betting detected

The issue of possible match-fixing reared its head again at tennis' Australian Open Sunday when a major sports gambling website stopped taking bets on a mixed-doubles match after noticing that far more money than usual was being wagered on one of the pairings.

The incident, which was first reported by The New York Times, comes a week after the BBC and Buzzfeed reported that investigators had repeatedly flagged 16 unnamed players on suspicion of repeatedly throwing matches in exchange for cash.

The investigators alleged that the suspicious players were not disciplined by tennis officials, who in turn have claimed the investigators did not present enough evidence for them to take any action.

The first-round match in question was won by the pairing of Andrea Hlavackova and Lukasz Kubot, 6-0 6-3, over the pairing of Lara Arruabarrena and David Marrero. Marrero said he was battling an injury in explaining the pair's performance, which included 12 unforced errors to Hlavackova and Kubot's four.

Traders at the website Pinnacle Sports suspended betting on the match approximately 13 hours before it began. Sportsbook head Marco Blume told The Times that from the time betting on the match opened Thursday, so much money was bet on Hlavackova and Kubot that the website was forced to change the match odds. When that didn't stop the flow, the website reduced the maxiumum amount for a single bet from $500 to $100 before suspending betting completely.

"Even the slightest disturbance in the betting sets off any alarms on my trading floor," Blume told The Times. "We run much like a stock exchange in terms of our day-to-day work."

The Times also reported that approximately $25,000 had been wagered on the match through another website, Betfair. That amount is more than 12 times the combined amount bet on three other first-round mixed doubles matches at the Australian Open.

The International Tennis Federation, which oversees all four Grand Slam events, including the Australian Open, had no immediate comment.

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