Aus Open: Women players asked to throw matches

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Five or six players on the WTA Tour have been approached to throw tennis matches, tour chairman Larry Scott said on Tuesday.

Updated: January 28, 2008 15:39 IST
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Five or six players on the WTA Tour have been approached to throw tennis matches, tour chairman Larry Scott said on Tuesday.

''I've said several initially, and I think five or six would be in the ballpark,'' Scott said. ''I don't want to go into any more details because it's part of an investigation.

''But we were surprised by the amount of gambling on tennis in general, and the number of players approached.''

Scott said the WTA has determined that no matches have been affected by gambling. And he also has threatened any player involved with gambling on matches with a life ban.

''We're very pleased about a couple of things,'' Scott said. ''One, that the players have been responsible and shared the information, and secondly, that from what we have seen so far, there is no proof that there has been any corruption by the players or anyone around the players.

''While this represents a significant threat that got our attention, it also caused us to focus in a different way, in a more intense way, to get ahead of the curve, be proactive and to prevent the threat from becoming a problem.''

The issue of possible corruption was raised in men's tennis after an online betting site in August voided all wagers on a match in Poland between Nikolay Davydenko and 87th-ranked Martin Vassallo Arguello because of irregular betting patterns.

Davydenko withdrew from the match in the third set, citing a foot injury.

Since then, several ATP players came forward to say they have been approached with offers to fix matches for money.

The ATP opened an investigation into the Davydenko match, interviewing him and his wife and reviewing telephone records. No findings have been announced.

Late last year, three Italian pros - Potito Starace, Daniele Bracciali and Alessio Di Mauro - were suspended for betting on tennis matches involving other players.

Scott said he met with WTA players in Melbourne on Saturday and that the gambling issue ''was the first item on the agenda for me.''

''I wanted to signal to the players that it was a most important issue,'' he said, ''and my message was simple: that women's tennis has a tremendous amount of momentum, we've had great success in 2007, and that this is one issue I see out there that could put a black cloud over us.

''It wasn't the first time that we've discussed it, but I wanted to elevate the importance of it and be very clear with the players that we have a zero tolerance, that a player caught would have a lifetime ban from the sport.''

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