Forstmann: Federer bet showed bad judgement

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The Independent Online

The last Masters Series tournament of the year reaches its conclusion here this weekend, but much of the off-court talk at the Palais Omnisports at Bercy has centred on a controversy involving a match played on the other side of the French capital three years ago.

Ted Forstmann, the chairman of IMG, the most powerful management company in tennis, has been accused in a lawsuit of gambling millions of dollars on sports events, including the 2007 French Open final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, who are both IMG clients. Forstmann maintains that he did nothing wrong in betting $40,000 (£24,800) on Federer to beat Nadal (who won in four sets), although he regrets making the wager. There is no suggestion of wrongdoing on Forstmann's part.

"It was bad judgement," Forstmann said in an interview with the Bloomberg news agency. "I would have been rooting for him just as hard had I had no money on him at all."

Tennis only introduced its anti-corruption programme, the Tennis Integrity Unit, at the start of last year, under which players, their entourages and management representatives are forbidden to bet on tennis.

Forstmann has been told by the TIU that he is among those covered by the sport's anti-corruption code. He told the unit that he had not gambled on tennis since the programme was introduced.

The Association of Tennis Professionals, which runs the men's tour, said in a statement that the matter "has been taken very seriously by everyone". The ATP said it had "sent the message very clearly to Mr Forstmann that we consider his behaviour inappropriate, and that he will be in violation of the rules if he engages in such activity in the future".

Federer himself said here that he had asked Forstmann for an explanation, though he stressed that the IMG chairman was not his own agent. "I wanted to know everything about it, how this came about," Federer said. "It's definitely not a good thing, not good news for tennis."

The former world No 1 took his latest unbeaten run to 13 matches when he needed just 70 minutes to beat Jürgen Melzer 6-1, 7-6 here last night. Today he meets the winner of yesterday's concluding quarter-final between Andy Murray and Gaël Monfils. Murray, who has beaten Federer in two Masters Series finals since losing to the Swiss in the Australian Open final at the start of the year, went into the match against Monfils knowing that reaching the final here would earn him enough points to reclaim the world No 3 ranking from Novak Djokovic.

In the other semi-final, France's Michael Llodra will take on Sweden's Robin Soderling.