Australian Open Not for SalePublished November 3, 2007 by OCR Editor
The preparations for the next Grand Slam event are on the way. Tickets for the Australian Open, which opens January 14, are already on sale. The concern among tennis and event officials is, however, that the games themselves might be on sale.
The new tennis season is not only about playing tennis. It is also about keeping corruption off the courts.
Match-fixing is one of the greatest worries that tennis has had to deal with in a long time. Some see it as a threat on the sport itself. Tennis governing bodies have held meetings this month with representatives from various organizations on an updated anti-corruption program. The Australian Open intends to make sure the games are clean of any such suspicions.
As the first Grand Slam to follow these meetings, the Australian Open has taken several measures to combat match-fixing in January. It has hired a security consultant, Calibre International, and established a team whose goal is to prevent match-fixing at the games.
Match-fixing has not skipped major events and top seeded players. It is by no means an issue for small time tournaments and insignificant matches. Only this week did Wimbledon doubles champion Michael Llodra tell if an offer he was made to forfeit a match.
"I was in my hotel room and somebody called to ask me not to try too hard the next day," he told French radio. Even though this happened four years ago, having no channels to report this has allowed the corrupt practice to continue unabated.
Indeed, Llorda said that he has "the feeling that a lot of people have been approached. There's a lot of talk about it on the circuit."
Even the Paris Masters, perhaps the world's most prestigious indoor tennis tournament, taking place this week, is being inspected carefully for possible match-fixing incidents. The lessons learned and tactics used in Paris will be shared with the Australians and serve to keep the Open clean and corruption-free.