Alexandr Dolgopolov’s press conference drew a small group of reporters. The reason: Dolgopolov’s recent loss to Brazil’s Thiago Monteiro at an ATP event in Winston-Salem, NC attracted much online attention as a possible example of match-fixing, and is now under investigation by the TIU (Tennis Integrity Unit).
In addition to a rapid reversal of betting patterns toward Monteiro before the match began, a variety of stats made his win over Dolgopolov seem unusual. Monteiro had yet to win an ATP level hard court match in seven attempts, and had been broken 31 times in those matches, yet he wasn’t broken by Dolgopolov while notching a 6-3, 6-3 victory. In the past two years, the only other player Dolgopolov had failed to have break points against was Roger Federer. Monteiro had never before won a hard court match, let alone posted a straight-set hard court victory without facing a break point.
Following his 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 victory over Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff, Dolgopolov held court with almost a dozen reporters. The Ukrainiann sounded many notes of defiance and denial before closing with a curious, defensive and testy exchange which some felt was revealing.
After speaking about his five-set first round win at the Open, Dolgopolov was asked a series of questions about the gambling dust-up.
Q: Do you think that the [ankle] injury and people knowing about it might be responsible for the strange betting patterns in Winston-Salem?
Dolgopolov: I don’t know. I have no idea…I was practicing hard before Winston-Salem. People saw that I was a bit tired and wasn’t playing my best.
Q: What were your thoughts when you heard about the huge spike [in betting] and that the markets were pretty decisive on that match?
AD: You want my honest answer? I don’t give a f–k to be honest. Because it’s like a circus. I’ve heard it not one time, I’ve heard the stories. I should be asking you guys how you feel about your fellow journalists writing about maybe there’s a fix in the match because there’s a market for it. I read the article. The statistics of my break points – are you serious? You’re going now to the statistics and then saying the market might be fixed because there’s a market. You’re writing news or fairy tales? I don’t know.
For me, I don’t want to even talk about it. I talked to the TIU, I respect their work, I gave all the information needed, and at the end of the day what’s going to happen is that I’m not involved in anything. That’s going to be what happens, and these guys are still going to write that bulls–t. For me, it’s nothing new, I’ve heard stories about this, and you can read about it for the last year. You can read about it…I remember there were investigations. Writing those things before there’s any investigation is silly.
Q: You’ve heard things about yourself personally, in previous matches, your matches?
AD: No, no, I’ve heard things [in] the press.
Q: About you, though?
AD: …The press talking about match fixing. Let’s talk about facts. There’s the TIU that does their job. If they find something, good, let’s talk about it. Before that, it’s a pity that you guys are writing and hurting people’s image without really anything, just a betting pattern. How I do have anything connected to that? A guy got drunk and went to bed with one million and I have to answer every time…It’s not really facts.
Q: So to be clear, you were really giving your best effort to win that match [ in Winston-Salem]?
AD: I was giving my best effort. I wasn’t playing my best. I was doing a lot of practice before because I wasn’t feeling good with Kyrgios in Cincinnati and I was physically weak. I blacked out in that match. I wasn’t happy with my physical condition and I knew that by New York I needed to get some work done. Obviously, you want to be ready for the US Open. I was working hard and playing under tiredness.
Q: Did you get a letter from the TIU?
AD: I did, I did. Just one, the first or second year [when] they started their work. It was pretty much the same thing. Strange betting patterns. I gave all my information, they didn’t have any questions, and we closed the deal, that’s it …
Q: What was the interaction like with the TIU?
AD: I don’t know if I’m allowed to discuss these things so better talk to them. I don’t want to speak some extra stuff because they have their job and I just give my information, what they ask for.
Q: Does it seem a little unfair? Normally nobody would know about even a preliminary thing being done, but on this occasion it seems that something’s come out quite a bit earlier …
AD: That’s what I said. I don’t care what came out. People writing, it’s just their thoughts, it’s just their imagination. I can also now start talking, yeah, maybe these guys are betting against me or on me, and lost their bets. It’s happening every match. I go on social media and I have to delete like 10 messages because people are writing me threats or stuff to the family. Maybe the guy from the journalists bet and lost. Why do I have to comment on this? Go to the TIU. You think there’s a problem? Ok, there’s an investigation. Unfair, fair, just speaking, it’s a pity that journalists, quite serious journalists and big papers are writing something from not many facts, just a betting pattern and statistics that I didn’t have a break point. It’s funny.
Q: How much match fixing or corruption do you think there is at ATP level?
AD: I have no idea. It’s not my job. As you said, we read these things all the time, but we don’t see anyone getting banned or caught. I think there’s quite serious people working at the TIU … I’ve spoken to them a few times. They gather a lot of information, and it’s just strange that they always find nothing. There’s so much match fixing that we hear about, markets and stuff going on, and they never find anything. That’s surprising.
Q: Have you ever been approached by anybody trying to get you to fix a match?
AD: Um, no, not really. I don’t have a lot of friends on social networks.
Q: But you can get messaged anonymously. Like you said, you get messages after matches, so people could find you if they wanted to.
AD: I mean, if you give your phone number too many times, probably. But not that I remember.
Q: Sounds like you maybe have been approached indirectly by somebody.
AD: Sounds like what?
Q: It sounds like you may have been approached indirectly.
AD: I ask you, sounds like?
Q: It’s just that I felt you really hesitated.
AD: Ok, many people felt that I fixed a match. Do you want to go to predictions? You come to me after a five-set match and the only thing you ask about is betting patterns. If I’ve been approached. Can you ask something normal?
Q: I’m here to tell the stories [of our sport.]
AD: You don’t care about the story.
Q: Yes, I do, I’ve been in this industry for 37 years –
AD: You write whatever you want before anything is even investigated.
I don’t want to answer stupid questions. That’s it.
Q: You have that right, but it was an honest question and I just wanted an honest answer.
AD: I don’t want to answer stupid questions.