As you probably know, a few days ago the New York Times published an article about a suspicious mixed doubles match played during Australian Open: David Marrero (actual top 50 doubles player and former top 10) and Lara Arruabarrena lost that match 60 63 against Andrea Hlavackova and Lukasz Kubot. I gave my information to Ben Rothenberg and I am going to explain why I think that the Tennis Integrity Unit should investigate David Marrero.
The NYT asked a Pinnacle Sports (one of the biggest bookmakers worldwide) representative to explain what they noticed:
Hlavackova and Kubot were listed as the favorites to win, but by Saturday morning so much money was pouring in on them that Pinnacle drastically altered its odds to attract betting on Arruabarrena and Marrero. Pinnacle also reduced the maximum amount for a single bet to $100, from $500. Even still heavy bets kept coming in on the Czech Hlavackova and the Polish Kubot. Just nine minutes after reducing the betting maximum traders on the Pinnacle floor suspended betting on the match.
As you can see below, also in another very important bookmake, Bet365, you could notice quite a big odds movement: odds for Marrero/Arruabarrena moved from 2.62 (38% implied probability for them to win the match) to 5.00 (20% implied probability)
It has to be said that David Marrero and Lara Arruabarrena strongly denied the accusations: in their opinion, considering that Marrero is affected by a inflamed tendon in his knee “it was possible that a spectator could have noticed that Marrero was affected by the injury in practice Saturday“.
I will try to explain why I think it is very unlikely that the reason is that above, unless this spectator has travelled all around the world in 2015 following Marrero’s practice sessions.
The “spectator” could love Wimbledon (as everyone does) as there in the Marrero’s mixed doubles we had an huge odds movement (from 55% probability to 29%) and Marrero lost.
The “spectator” should have been present even in Asia because we could see another big increase on Marrero’s price in Shanghai 2015 (and another loss)
and in Beijing 2015 (opening price had Marrero’s doubles team as the favorite to win the match but his price increased a lot and another loss)
The “spectator” also loved to watch the Spaniard’s training sessions in Europe, Wien 2015 (price increase from 2.36 to 4.02 and another loss)
The “spectator” could not miss the amazing Marrero’s practice in Africa! In Casablanca 2015 (price increase from 2.20 to 2.75 plus I remember some intense in play betting activity after Marrero won first set and another loss)
Do not forget what I highlighted in a similar article about Verdasco: they played a doubles match in Metz 2015 with 50/50 opening odds and with these odds increase just before match start (of course, another loss)
Again I am not here to say all these matches have been fixed but I am just saying that when you see a player involved once with weird betting patterns it could easily be a coincidence, maybe even if it happens twice; but when it is happening too many times (as happened with Marrero’s close friend Verdasco), players can’t get away with funny excuses like the one used by Marrero to explain his bad results in mixed doubles:
Normally, when I play, I play full power, in doubles or singles, 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.
It is quite easy to point out that despite what he said above, he kept playing mixed doubles at every Slam and I wonder if he ever told to his partners about this “issue”.
For those that could reply that fixing an ATP or a Challenger matches isn’t worth it if you balance risks and benefits I suggest this good read: at the moment, even with a lot of suspicious matches played at ATP and Challenger level, the Tennis Integrity Unit banned or suspended very little fishes, far from the big stage of tennis so the ATP/Challenger players still feel untouchable and they can easily think the risk is minimal.
Which is the benefit? Jack Sackmann calculated that the median expected value of an ATP first-round match is only $6,200 while we can consider $50,000 as a typical payment to fix an anonymous early-round ATP match: that’s probably about 10 times the expected value of that match to the player who fixes it.
My personal opinion is that the Tennis Integrity Unit should investigate about the above matches as they include the presence of the same player: I surely cannot conclude that these were fixed but they were very suspicious and a proper investigation would be very welcome.