Reigning Australian Open boys’ singles champion Oliver Anderson has been charged with match fixing.
Victoria Police Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit (SIIU) detectives charged the 18-year-old from Brisbane by summons with engaging in conduct that corrupts a betting outcome.
It follows an investigation, involving bookmakers and detectives, into a match at the Traralgon ATP Challenger tournament held in the Australian State of Victoria in October of last year.
It is alleged that Anderson was approached to “tank” – or lose – the first set of his first-round match against fellow Australian Harrison Lombe, The Age reports.
He lost the first set 4-6, but won the next two 6-0, 6-2.
Anderson lost his second-round match at the $50,000 tournament, which was played by those on the lowest tier of professional tennis.
Anderson is coached by former professional tennis player Wayne Arthur, who declined to comment on the matter when contacted by Fairfax Media.
The media company contacted people who watched Anderson’s matches at the tournament and claimed they had not seen anything unusual.
An Anderson family spokesman told Fairfax Media the player is “cooperating fully” with authorities and “now awaits the legal process.”
Other tennis figures expressed dismay at Anderson’s alleged conduct, and could not comprehend why he had allegedly become involved in match fixing.
He is expected to appear at Latrobe Valley Magistrates Court on March 2.
Victoria Police’s assistant commissioner Neil Paterson said it was important to stamp out corruption regardless of where it occurred.
“Match fixing is one of the fastest growing organized crime types across the world,” he said in a statement.
“In-play betting and individual sports…are the big, risky practices for us.”
Fourteen-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal said he was saddened to hear of the allegations against Anderson, who beat Uzbekistan’s Jurabek Karimov in last year’s boys’ singles final at the season-opening Grand Slam.
“[It] is obviously negative, always in the first month of the season [it] starts to happen,” the Spaniard told Australian Associated Press.
“Talking stories about our sport always before the Australian Open, and that’s something, you know, I have been a lot of years on tour and happen almost every year.
“I don’t see matches that people give up or throw the match.
“Maybe the lower tournaments is another story, but I don’t want to talk about it, because I really don’t know much.
“I see every [ATP Tour] match people fight, you know, people don’t want to lose.”
Last month, Tennis Australia stepped up its anti-corruption measures ahead of the first Grand Slam of 2017 after explosive allegations were made during the 2016 tournament of widespread match fixing in the sport.
It was on the first day of the 2016 Australian Open that integrity issues in tennis came to light following the release of secret files by the BBC and BuzzFeed.
A total of 16 players who have ranked in the top 50 had been repeatedly flagged over suspicions they had thrown matches in the past decade and none had been properly investigated by the Tennis Integrity Unit, it was claimed.
An Independent Review Panel was formed to look into the sport’s practices and is expected to reveal its findings before the Australian Open, scheduled to begin on January 16.
Tennis Australia’s increased measures include the addition of two full-time investigators to its integrity unit and the promise of increased prize money at its lower-tier events and in Australian Open qualifying and the early rounds.
Lower-ranked professionals who struggle to make a legitimate living have long been considered more vulnerable to corruption.
In April, former Australian professional tennis player Nick Lindahl was convicted of match fixing offences related to a match in Toowoomba in Queensland in 2013
He was fined $1,000 and given a 12-month good behavior bond.
By Daniel Etchells
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.