Despite recent allegations around the Australian Open, organisers of the Burnie International are confident their event has not been targeted by match fixers, even though self-confessed ‘tanker’ Nick Lindahl has played there in the past.
As reported in The Mercury, two other players allegedly among the 15 former and current professionals said to have played in matches surrounded by unusual betting trends, have also taken part in the Burnie International.
In fact one of the players was a seed and lost to a player more than 100 places down the rankings in the first round.
The Australian Open was rocked by the joint BuzzFeed and BBC report released last week that claimed to have identified 15 players who ‘regularly lost matches in which heavily lopsided betting appeared to substantially shift the odds — a red flag for possible match-fixing’.
The claims from the joint investigation came from leaked documents from inside tennis circles and an analysis of the betting patterns of 26,000 matches from 2009-2015. And yesterday, the saga took another turn when the New York Times reported a major sports gambling website suspended betting on Sunday for a mixed doubles match at the Australian Open after unusual betting.
Also this week, former tour player Nick Lindahl, 27, pleaded guilty in a NSW court to a corrupt betting charge, relating to a game in a Toowoomba Futures tournament in 2013. Three years before the Toowoomba Futures event, Lindahl was the No.6 seed at the Burnie International, where he lost in the second round to then-qualifier, and eventual winner, Bernard Tomic in three sets.
At this stage there is no suggestion that any of the matches at the Burnie International that, or in any other year, have been subject to any form of corruption or match fixing. But the $150,000 tournament is part of the ATP Challenger and ITF Circuit Series, events regarded as easiest for fixers to affect.
Anthony Johnson, Burnie International Chairman, said he had no doubts over the integrity of the tournament: “Totally confident, as far as I’m aware it hasn’t happened here. I have no reason to think otherwise; in my mind 100 per cent it has not happened at the tournament.”
The Burnie International is not being held this year after funds needed to upgrade the courts and infrastructure were not secured in time to host it. Johnstone said the asphalt and bitumen below the courts had deteriorated beyond an acceptable standard for international tennis, but he was confident funding could be secured and work completed in time for the event to return next year.