Suspicious betting sparks probe

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The Independent Online

Bookmakers suspended betting on a match involving two top 100 players at the Ordina Open in the Netherlands on Monday after "a sudden and suspicious" swing in odds during "an industry-wide gamble".

The tennis authorities have already launched an investigation into the first-round match between Spain's Oscar Hernandez, 31, who is the world No 67 and Austria's Daniel Köllerer, 25, the world No 91. Both players were originally priced as 5-6 joint-favourites but bookmakers saw a surge of money just before the start for Hernandez that pushed his price in to 1-5 favourite. Most bookmakers suspended betting at that stage. Hernandez won 6-3, 6-2.

William Hill and Ladbrokes confirmed they saw "unusual" money and suspended betting. Betfair witnessed the same swing but did not stop trading. Online firms including Unibet and said they stopped taking bets before or early in the match.

"It was a toss-of-the-coin market where you'd expect to see a spread of bets, but it was one-way traffic for Hernandez," said David Williams of Ladbrokes. "Alarm bells go off, we suspended the market, taking the view we're going to sit this dance out."

William Hill's Graham Sharp said: "The pattern alone rather than the volume was enough for us to suspend the market." Unibet spokesman Lennart Ehlinger said: "There was a huge drop in the price that we couldn't explain. We suspended the market as a precaution for our customers and ourselves."

The Gambling Commission will be notified as a matter of course. Tennis has taken greater strides than most sports in trying to enforce integrity and cut out corruption. Yet despite an independent review last year identifying 45 "suspicious" matches, no misconduct charges have yet been tabled.