Saturday 24 February 2018

Angry Alexandr Dolgopolov hits back at match-fixing allegations

Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine reacts in his match against Yen-Hsun Lu of Chinese Taipei during their quarter final match on day five of the Aegon Open Nottingham at Nottingham Tennis Centre on June 25, 2015 in Nottingham, England. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images for LTA)
Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine reacts in his match against Yen-Hsun Lu of Chinese Taipei during their quarter final match on day five of the Aegon Open Nottingham at Nottingham Tennis Centre on June 25, 2015 in Nottingham, England. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images for LTA)

Eleanor Crooks

Alexandr Dolgopolov angrily hit back at accusations of match-fixing.

The Tennis Integrity Unit has confirmed it is looking into Dolgopolov's defeat by Brazilian Thiago Monteiro at the Winston-Salem Open last week after a number of bookmakers suspended betting on the match.

Dolgopolov was initially the strong favourite but the odds swung dramatically in Monteiro's favour prior to the match and the Brazilian, ranked 114 to his opponent's 63, went on to win 6-3 6-3.

Reports immediately began to surface questioning the validity of the result and, asked for his reaction, Dolgopolov said: "You want my honest answer? I don't give a f*** to be honest because it's like a circus.

"I think I should be asking you guys how you feel about your fellow journalists writing about maybe there's a fix in the match because there is a market.

"I read the article, it was like the statistics of my break points. Are you serious? You are going now to the statistics and saying it might be fixed because there is a market. Are you writing news or fairytales?

"I don't want to even talk about it. I talked to the TIU, I respect their work, I gave all the information needed. At the end of the day, what's going to happen is I'm not involved in anything.

"That's going to be what happens and these guys are still going to write that bull***t. For me, writing those things before there is an investigation is silly."

The exchange became heated when Dolgopolov was asked if he had ever been approached to fix a match.

"Er, no, not really," he said. "I don't have a lot of friends on social networks. If you give your phone too many times, probably, but no, not that I remember."

Pushed further, the Ukrainian said: "You want go to predictions? You want to ask a third time. I come here after a five-set match and all you ask is about betting patterns. Can you ask something normal? I don't want to answer stupid questions."

Dolgopolov insisted he was trying to win the match against Monteiro, saying: "I was giving my best effort. I wasn't playing my best.

"I was doing a lot of practice before because I wasn't feeling good with (Nick) Kyrgios in Cincinnati. I was physically weak. I blacked out in that match, I wasn't happy with my physical condition and I knew by New York I needed to get some work done."

Dolgopolov, who defeated Jan-Lennard Struff in five sets in his opening match at the US Open on Wednesday, does have confidence in the TIU investigation.

He said: "I think so. They gather quite personal information and I think if you do something they find it."

It is not the first time Dolgopolov has been questioned by the TIU over a suspicious match having previously been contacted, and eventually exonerated, in 2011.

"It was pretty much the same thing, the strange betting patterns," said. "I gave all my information and they didn't have any questions. We closed the deal, that's it."

Tennis' anti-corruption practices were placed under the spotlight at last year's Australian Open after an investigation by the BBC and Buzzfeed alleged match-fixing at the top of the game.

An independent review was launched, with the preliminary findings due to be published shortly.

Twenty one players and officials are currently banned after being found guilty of corruption, nearly all of them from the lowest levels of the sport.

The TIU revealed in July that three Wimbledon matches were being investigated, and Dolgopolov said: "We read these things all the time but we don't see anyone getting banned or caught.

"I think there are quite serious people working in the TIU. They take it serious. I've spoken to them a few times. They gather a lot of information and it's just strange they always find nothing."

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