The Curious Case of Fernando Verdasco’s Odds

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Fernando Verdasco has won $12,231,985 in his entire career so far.

We can assume that he has actually earned double that, considering the money he got from sponsors.

With a Career High ranking of #7, actually still inside the top 50, he would be one of last players you could associate to match fixing.

Of course there is not any proof: no SMS, no Skype conversations, no money transactions etc… so I would let the odds speak. As I wrote here we need more and more media to underline suspicious matches, otherwise the Tennis Integrity Unit will just keep catching little fishes.

First of all, for the audience not used to the gambling world, you have to know that generally bookmakers allows bigger bets in the proximity of the event start. They do this because they can always make mistakes when they put early odds but when the match is about to start the market is supposed to be stable and less risky for them.

Another important factor is this: if a player is supposed to win a match, he is always supposed to win the first set also. Money Line (winner of the match) odds and 1st set odds are always very similar, but the 1st set odds are closer because on the distance of one set the difference between two players is minor.

The final thing to remember, for those unfamiliar with gambling: the line moves based on how the match is being bet. If most of the money is coming in on one player, his odds will get lower. The bookies don’t make money based on predicting who wins the match or most fans predicting wrong. They want every match to be bet 50/50. That way they always win.

Last but not least, if you don’t consider exchange markets as Betfair, one of the biggest bookmakers online is surely Pinnacle Sports, which allows great limits on tennis betting.

During the last US Open we could see very strange odds in the first round match of Tommy Haas vs Fernando Verdasco.

As you can see below, Fernando Verdasco was the clear favorite of the match, with odds about 1.30 (77% probability of winning the match).

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 5.43.31 PM

So you would expect to see odds like 1.4 (71%) for Fernando Verdasco to win the first set.

And in fact all bookmakers priced about 1.4 that set BUT look at odds on Pinnacle Sports!

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 5.44.20 PM

Why did someone take huge bets on 1st set Haas? And look when it did happen, just a few minutes before the match started!

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 5.45.24 PM

Verdasco lost set 1.

OK, this could have been just a coincidence. After all, it only takes someone very confident against Haas and with money to spend to make a huge bet like that.

After the US Open, Verdasco competed at ATP Metz. In the first round he faced Alexander Zverev.

Average odds before match start were 1.80.

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 5.47.01 PM

Also here you could see a quick increase of Money Line odds for Verdasco’s price in the match proximity. This happened because when bookmakers receive big bets on set 1 they tend to adjust also Money Line odds.

Did they receive big bets on set 1 for Alexander Zverev? Oh yes! Look at the price, Verdasco to win set 1 moved to 2.1. He was the favorite to win the match but not to win set 1!

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 5.48.57 PM

And when did the bets have to have been placed? Again, a few minutes before the match started, when bigger bets are allowed.

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 5.50.00 PM

Verdasco lost set 1.

Next match in the same tournament was against Gilles Muller.

Again, a few minutes before the match started Verdasco’s price suddenly increased

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 5.50.53 PM

Verdasco lost the first set and the match.

In the same tournament he also played doubles and…again we have a big increase of his price. The match started with 50/50 odds and ended like this:

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 5.51.40 PM

Watching the match you could see cases of Verdasco apparently NOT hitting the ball (he let the ball bounce twice when it seemed he could have easily hit) in a crucial point during first set tiebreak.

Verdasco lost the match.

After France he moved to Japan and in Tokyo we could notice a HUGE increase of his price in doubles.

Richard Gasquet/Fernando Verdasco were initially priced at average 2.4 odds (41% probability to win the match) and they moved to 7.7 (13%!) as if they had almost no chance against Juan Sebastian Cabal/Robert Farah.

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 5.54.22 PM

Verdasco lost the match.

Last but not least, he played in Valencia against Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.

Look at the odds movement. The price was stable at around 1.7 until 30 minutes before the match started. From this moment someone started taking big bets on Garcia-Lopez and Verdasco’s price reached 2.11 when match started.

This means that someone decided in the last 30 minutes that the probability of Verdasco winning the match had to move from 58% to 47%.

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 5.55.59 PM

Same behavior for set 1 odds.

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 5.56.32 PM

Verdasco lost set 1 and the match.

I reported only the most blatant matches but there are others that are quite similar even if with smaller odds movement but always with same outcome.

Again, I must reiterate that all of these do not amount to proof and that these are not accusations. Rather, these are betting patterns that are usually associated with match-fixing. I cannot prove it, but hopefully someone in tennis with the power and the ability will (or already has) to make sure that no match-fixing is going on.

And if it is, we hope that it involving a player of Verdasco’s caliber and fame won’t stop them from doing the right thing.

Main Photo:

18 COMMENTS

  1. The Haas match isn’t too suspicious to me. Haas is a former top five player, and he always has his ups and downs. Someone placing a large bet on him isn’t really surprising.

  2. These don’t look like fixed match betting patterns to me at all.

    Just because something gets bet (and you have probably jumped on the wrong side!!) you cant start accusing players of fixing!

    First of all, anyone who is a decent tennis punter well knows that Verdasco has always been a renowned slow starter, so seeing the first set odds drop like this doesn’t mean much to me.

    Other moves, may involve injury information.

    The other thing is if you actually understand how pinnacle works, it might wake you up to what has actually happened in these cases.

    If these were actual fixes, you wouldn’t just see a move from 1.5 to about 1.7 … you would see a move from 1.5 to about 3.25 and then most bookies would pull it. you would also not just see one massive move … you would see loads and loads of moves, as people would keep re-popping it.

    VERDASCO IS NOT A FIXER!

    get over your losses, and learn how to bet before blaming players on the fact you don’t understand the market!

    • Dear Verdasco fan, every professional punter agreed on these betting patterns being highly suspicious: you are clearly not a pro punter but probably someone cheering for Nando (great win over Nadal!), I just hope the authorities will look into these patterns but they never did in the past so I have not great expectations.
      By the way, the recent Buzzfeed scandal included “One top-50 player competing in the Australian Open is suspected of repeatedly fixing his first set” so is not just me having suspects.

  3. The argument that a top player “doesn’t need the money” doesn’t wash with me.
    Getting a player to throw a match doesn’t need to involve money.
    Blackmail is a very strong motivator. If match fixers have some information on a certain player, such as knowing that player was involved in shady behaviour early in his career, then it may only take a threat of exposure to get that player to cooperate in a couple of fixes.
    I can imagine a number of scenarios where a player might feel compelled to cooperate in something like this, none of which neccesarily involve the player getting a cash payment.

    • Yeap, I agree! A friend who works at the prison said that most cases of trafficking inside te jail are blackmail of officers.

  4. I came to this article because of the current issue. I found it because I specifically searched for this player, not a general search. I have some data and have just looked into it. If you are interested to know more, send me an e-mail.

  5. Vernando Verdasco is a clear match fixer. if you seen the carry on in the match against Olivo you would see him clearly tanking the match. doing his best to lose from a lead.

    • Absolutly true! I was watching the match and my jaw was droping of how blatant and abviosly he is giving the points when he was down 3-4 in the third set!!! I hadn’t bet on the match but now I have an explanation about many weird and unusal things happen during the match.

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