Russian tennis star, Yana Sizikova, has reportedly been arrested on suspicion of match-fixing.
German publication Die Welt revealed last year that French police had begun an investigation into a doubles match at the 2020 French Open which saw Sizikova and her American partner Madison Brengle lose to Andreea Mitu and Patricia Maria Tig.
Mitu and Tig won the match in straight sets and it was claimed at the time that the authorities were notified by betting companies about ‘suspicious betting stakes’.
Die Welt claimed that the fifth game in the second set was the focus of the investigation, with Sizikova making two double faults.
It said ‘Hundreds of thousands of euros’ were allegedly bet on the match in question, prompting officials to open up an investigation into “organized gang fraud” and “active and passive sports corruption” on October 1.
The French Tennis Federation has since confirmed this and Shamil Tarpischev, the president of the Russian Tennis Federation, told the RIA news agency that he was also aware Sizikova was in custody.
He was quoted as saying: “We have not received any documents (regarding the case), so it’s difficult to make an assessment of what has happened.”
Le Parisien claims that the 26-year-old was arrested following her first-round doubles match at this year’s French Open.
Sizikova and her partner, Ekaterina Alexandrova, lost that match to Australian pair Ajla Tomljanović and Storm Sanders.
Europol warned in August last year that the rise of online betting had led to organised crime groups (OCGs) using match fixing to launder money.
They said: “Criminals usually target lower-level competitions across different sports, with football and tennis the most targeted sports by criminal networks.”
With regards to tennis, Europol added: “Individual sports competitions like tennis with a limited number of key actors (e.g.players and/or chair umpires) are an even easier target for OCGs, to have a corrupt impact on the match (or part of it).
“To date, investigations reported to Europol indicate that nearly 500 tennis matches have been manipulated between 2014 and 2018.”
The report also stated that “detection of match-fixing schemes in tennis has increased and Eurasian organised crime groups have been found to be heavily involved in tennis match-fixing.”
Alleged sports corruption in tennis was labelled “an area of increasing concern”.
Jonny Gray, CEO of the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA), has also warned that the rise of in-play betting has made tennis a popular target for match fixers.
“Unlike team sports, it only takes one player to be corrupted to influence the outcome of the match, and the nuanced betting that was impossible is possible now with in-play betting”, he told the Integrity Insight Podcast earlier this year.
Just last month, the ITIA confirmed that Kazakhstan tennis player Roman Khassanov had been banned from the sport for ten years after breaching the Tennis Anti-Corruption Program (TACP).