Scheveningen (@Sport1Open) Mid-Week Report; Golubev/Nedovyesov Match Fixing?
Chris De Waard, Tennis Atlantic
My day started off with a first round match between Tim ‘Golden Set’ Puetz and second seed Daniel Munoz-De La Nava on Court 1. 33-year-old Munoz-De La Nava is playing the tennis of his life and might be entering the top 100 for the first time soon. He had a rocky start against the German, dropping the first set 6-4. But after a very long game in the second set, lasting about fifteen minutes, he broke through Puetz’s serve and started cruising from that point on. 4-6 6-3 6-1 was the final score.
Played at the same time was a match between Jordi Samper-Montana and Mathias Bourgue, who landed in a third set after a remarkable scoreline, with Bourgue handing out a bagel in the first set and Samper-Montana replying with a breadstick in the second. The third set was very heated, with both players regularly cursing and shouting at the top of their lungs after losing long points. In the end Samper-Montana prevailed, 0-6 6-1 6-4. He faced Munoz-De La Nava a day later in the second round and wasn’t able to take a set, although he kept it close with 6-4 6-4.
I didn’t catch Jesse Huta Galung’s 6-3 6-3 defeat against Andrey Kuznetsov, but after the match I overheard him saying that he hurt his wrist during the Davis Cup weekend and will visit a hospital soon to have it checked out. It didn’t prevent him from winning his doubles match later that day, so hopefully it isn’t a serious problem.
Over on the non-streamed Court 8m Andrej Martin faced Jan Mertl and wasn’t troubled. Spurred on by his girlfriend, they were both constantly saying ‘Pome, Pome, Pome’ as a sort of mantra. He won the match 6-4 6-2.
It was an amazing coincidence for Andrey Golubev and Aleksandr Nedovyesov having to face each other in the first round after just having spent a Davis Cup weekend together in Australia. I took the picture for that reason, unaware that they might have been planning a fix right under my nose. I could have taken an educated guess, however, since their previous match followed exactly the same pattern.
Here in Scheveningen, only the winner was different with Nedovyesov winning 2-6 7-6(2) 6-2. The fix was clear as day, with Nedovyesov’s odds starting to drop in the middle of the second set already, while there were no signs of an injury for Golubev. On the contrary, Golubev only dropped one point on his serve until the tiebreak, when he suddenly dropped three. Before the match their odds indicated a 50/50 match, but in the middle of the second set Nedovyesov started to become the favorite, despite being a set down. A mini-break up in the tiebreak saw him become a 80% favorite, while something in the neighborhood of 40% would have been appropriate. The match has been reported to the Tennis Integrity Unit for irregular betting patterns, but I’m afraid nothing will happen, like we have seen so many times in the past.
The match I was looking forward to the most was that of Nikoloz Basilashvili against Philipp Davydenko, Nikolay’s nephew. Basilashvili is a big talent and his groundstroke power and natural shot-making ability will often leave you in awe. His biggest problem at the moment is that his game is way too low percentage, giving him nothing to fall back on when his game isn’t clicking.
Clay is also his worst surface and it showed against Davydenko, the world #575. Davydenko wasn’t doing a lot, mainly putting the ball back into play half-court, together with some fine singlehanded backhand winners, with which he can generate some great power from time to time. But it was enough to take the first set from the world #120, 6-4. He was supported by his girlfriend, who even changed sides with him. It was clear however that as soon as Basilashvili would find some rhythm and cut the wild unforced errors out of his game he would be able to turn the match around, which was exactly what happened. Basilashvili grinded out the win in the end, 4-6 6-3 6-3.
Over on Court 1, the highest quality match of the day was played between third seed Jan-Lennard Struff and Adam Pavlasek. Struff came out incredibly strong, dominating his opponent and making it hard to believe there would be a possibility of him losing the match. Pavlasek fought himself into the match, however, and won the very high-quality affair, 3-6 6-3 6-4. On Centre Court the Dutch players did well, with Thiemo de Bakker beating eighth seed Norbert Gombos 6-4 6-2 and top seed Robin Haase beating Aslan Karatsev, although Haase had considerably more troubles in his 7-5 5-7 6-4 victory. Thomas Schoorel didn’t manage to upset Adrian Ungur, despite having a set point in the first set, with the Romanian winning 7-6(6) 6-3. All in all a great day of tennis and there is plenty still to come, with especially the second round encounter between Basilashvili and Florian Mayer being a mouth-watering prospect.