Doha ‘golden match’ casts shadow over tennis integrity

A match of the Doha Futures tennis tournament has come under fire and was dubbed a ‘golden match’, throwing the overall integrity of the game into question.

The ‘golden match’, which is a contest that sees a competitor lose every single available point, saw world no.1367 Krittin Koaykul dominate her Ukrainian opponent Artem Bahmet.

According to The Telegraph, the initial interest in the game stemmed from the ‘humour of the situation’, whereby Bahmet lost all 48 points in a 6-0, 6-0 defeat.

However, recent posts on a Russian online forum dedicated to tennis betting showed a number of posts from gamblers claiming to be accomplices of the losing Ukranian, alongside screen shots of betting slips.

If the slips are proven to be genuine, punters would win an excess of €2,000 from an initial stake of half that amount.

One of the posts on the form said: “Bets on this match paid for a trip of two people to Doha and a week in an excellent hotel, and also earned good money from above.

“And this is only part of the potential profit from the trip.

All week, Mont and Artem will be at the tournament, give forecasts directly from the courts, and next week they will again play in qualifications and bet against themselves.”

While these revelations will surely cast a shadow over the sport, the numbers for integrity alerts have been trending in the right way across the last two years.

As part of its Q3 report, the International Betting Integrity Association (IBIA) highlighted tennis as the sport with the most suspicious betting alerts – accounting for 30 of 50 alerts during the three-month period.

However, this was a 40% reduction compared to Q3 2018, in which there were 50 reported tennis alerts.

For the year so far (January to September), there have been just 72 tennis alerts compared to 121 from the corresponding period of 2018 – a significant downward trend caused predominantly caused by a reduction in alerts at the ITF Tour level.

Nevertheless, tennis is aware of its integrity challenge, as shown by the final recommendations of the Independent Review Panel (IRP), which included the discontinuance of the sale of live data for International Tennis Federation (ITF) tournaments at the $15,000 level.

Just some of these recommendations are now in place, including the formation of a Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) Supervisory Board, which met for the first time at this year’s French Open.

However, the transitional phase is ongoing, with Sportradar – the ITF’s live data provider – working closely with the TIU, ITF and the Supervisory Board to manage the implementation process towards discontinuance of data at the lowest level of professional tennis.