An Unfortunate Coincidence

It was a routine week – or at least supposed to – in Tennisland, with events going on in Spain, Germany and Morocco. Ok, forget about Morocco. Aravane Rezai is sucking THAT MUCH, so her loss to Nadia Lalami wasn’t even close to being considered suspicious.

But Barcelona. The former world no.3, a three-time Masters winner and all the stuff you know, he was sucking just like Rezai – this you might know too. And then you have a top-10, who’s on the rise, and feels very comfortable on clay. But the declining Russian wins the match. It’s ok, the other one is young, and tennis is an upset sport, after all.

I thought I read one thing or two about it, and how suspicious it could possible look, but I must state I didn’t pay attention. Davydenko was once involved in a scandal like, it was 2007, I think, but he later proved he was clean – and let’s admit the guy has a medical record good enough to back him up in a retirement case.

So, game on.

But today again. We were talking about betting, one of my followers and I. Because I like all my followers, and to talk to them. And it came to bets. I also must admit I understand shit about sports betting. But it doesn’t matter. I won’t say who is this guy, even though few people will read this. But you know, I won’t anyway.

Whatever. In a given moment of the day, when Victoria Azarenka – who had won 10 or 11 straight matches (the best streak of her career) – was playing local girl Julia Goerges for the second round of Stuttgart, something strange.

In my timeline, popped a tweet. “I think Vika is going to retire anytime soon now”, it said. At first, and looking at the scores (Vika led by a break), I thought: “Ok, my chap here is kidding. He obviously put some money on Julia and is fooling around with the situation”.

15 minutes later, well. You might check the final score and see what happened.

Call me naïve, romantic or whatever. But I was shocked. Not with this guy, of course not, he did nothing wrong. But with the scenario. Julia was playing a higher ranked player – who was riding the best streak of her career – and Goerges hadn’t have consistent results in 2011. Even so, and despite the homecourt advantage, Goerges was pointed as a favorite.

And, well, it ended up paying off.

Instantly, tweets commenting about it started appearing on my Tweet Deck screen. Because, apparently, Vika – despite playing the Fed Cup tie against Estonia last week – didn’t look injured. And according to on-site reports, she won the first set – 6/4 – and then walked on to the net, shook hands, as if she had won.

But wow, Vika, it takes two sets to win a tennis match. What you just did was forfeiting the second and handing Goerges a quarterfinal spot.

That was the introduction for this post. And, well, it is bigger than my comment itself. But whatever. I just felt I had to write this.

Because I’m a sports addicted. I’m a fanatic in the worst possible way. And I want to believe that Davydenko was injured back then and Azarenka was injured today – come on, she is the retirement queen. Just count it… she’s used to faint and stuff. A pain in the right shoulder is o.k. for her reputation.

But the bets. Just a coincidence. Julia was playing home and, you know, Victoria is not best known for her mental stability. She should just implode facing the pressure from the German crowd, playing a local girl and after so many wins… plus, she gotta lose sometime – it happens with everyone (unless Nadal, when it comes to the crushed bricks).

The fact she looked stable and not in pain is a proof of how tough is this girl. She was probably dealing with that, but after 10 games of intense action, it was just too much for her. Remember the incomparable Lena, in the semifinals of Roland Garros last year? Well, she ended up missing Wimbledon too.

Because it’s not possible – and I will refuse to believe – that players would tank matches in scams. They would forfeit the win and the glory for some extra-illegal bucks. That’s against the spirit of the sport.

That’s against the non-written rules that everyone who decides to dedicate their lives to be a top-level player know.

Because if someone accepts to be subject of a cheat, it stops being a sport. When a referee deliberately takes money to fix results, it is no longer a sport – an activity that drags immense crowds to stadium and that directly deals with the emotions of thousands of people.

When Renault, in 2008, ordered their second driver to crash into the wall at a specific moment of the Singapore race, they just spat in the face of everyone who stayed up late, or woke up in the early morning to watch F1.

If I wanted to watch fiction, I’d change the channel to WWE. Or go watch a movie.

Sports are entertainment? Yes, they are. But they’re natural. The sweat is natural. So are the emotions.

And I just hope that what happened today – and I’m pretty sure it will be soon forgiven by everyone – was a huge misunderstood, soon to be explained – or not.

But one thing I realized – and this one thing I know for sure – is I wish, from the bottom of my heart, that money hasn’t become that important.

If somehow it did, I’m not sure I would want to know. Or maybe I would even want.

So I could turn off my TV and go read a book or do something else other than wasting my time with a soap opera.


About Pete S. Liguori
Pete was born in São Paulo, Brasil. Loves sports - pigskin fanatic, tennis lover. One of his most famous quotes is "I'm no Tolstoi, but I love the Dallas Cowboys" His favorite quote of all time is "I'll keep playing", unknown author.

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