MELBOURNE, Australia – How bold would a player have to be to fix a match in the middle of a match-fixing scandal? That's the question buzzing around the Australian Open on Monday, where a suspicious mixed doubles match has reignited the match-fixing controversy that has surrounded the tournament since a joint Buzzfeed/BBC report was released last Sunday.
The suspicion started when betting site Pinnacle Sports suspended betting on the match featuring Lara Arruabarrena and David Marrero against Andrea Hlavackova and Lukasz Kubot. Large amounts of money were being placed on Kubot and Klavackova in what would normally be an obscure match, the head of the site told the New York Times.
“We saw a small number of people placing a large amount of money," he said. “In context, these matches are rather small. That means that any aggressive betting behavior is very easy to detect on our side.”
This is the first Australian Open match that Pinnacle Sports has flagged this year. Hlavackoba and Kubot won in rapid fashion, closing out the match at 6-0, 6-3.
Arruabarrena and Marrero are each ranked No. 33 and No. 32 among doubles players on the women's and men's tours, respectively. Marrero was part of the team that won the 2013 ATP World Tour championship. They denied any match-fixing, saying that the reason for their unexpected loss was that Marrero has a knee injury. Then Marrero, who has played nearly 30 mixed doubles matches, gave a more bizarre answer.
“Normally, when I play, I play full power, in doubles or singles,” he said. “But when I see the lady in front of me, I feel my hand wants to play, but my head says, ‘Be careful.’ This is not a good combination.”
Arruabarrena questioned if a spectator had noticed the injury during their Saturday practice session and subsequently tipped someone off. The Times noted that this is not the first time a Marrero doubles match has raised suspicions.
The Tennis Integrity Unit released a statement Monday saying that it cannot comment on the investigation.