An abnormally high number of bets on the first round match of this year’s French Open between Bernabé Zapata Miralles and Dudi Sela resulted in flagging the match for irregular betting, reported L’Equipe citing police sources.
Flagged for High Number of Bets
The match between 8th seeded Miralles and Sela concluded in less than an hour after the Israeli tennis player Sela, currently ranked outside of the top 400 lost 6-3, 6-0, and according to the media report, the second set is of particular interest, having lasted for less than 20 minutes, with Sela winning only 7 out of 32 points in the set.
The media source claims there was an unusually high number of bets on the match placed across three different betting jurisdictions – Cyprus, Ukraine and Armenia – trying to get the attention of judicial authorities to look deeper into the match and find out whether it was fixed, yet no formal launch of investigation has been confirmed.
When approached by Le Parisien for comment, the French Tennis Association neither confirmed nor denied that the match is being considered for investigation.
The match was the second first round qualifier lost by currently ranked 453rd Sela who managed to reach the qualifier with the use of a protected ranking, a tool applicable to players who experience an injury for a minimum of six months under which they request their ranking to be frozen based on their average ranking in the first three months of the injury.
37-year-old Sela, whose role in the match will be scrutinized if authorities launch a formal investigation, participated in only one singles tournament so far this season, the Australian Open, where he again lost in the first qualifying round. It is understood that he has already left Paris.
Final Season as a Professional
The professional player, who ranked in the top 30 and has two ATP event finals in his career, in China in 2008 and Atlanta in 2014, confirmed in January that this season would be his last. Among his achievements are reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2009 and beating three top 10 players.
In the meantime, Miralles sealed a place in the French Open main draw after beating Luca Nardi in the second-round qualifier. Currently ranked 133rd, Miralles came from a set down to beat the Italian 3-6, 6-4, 6-1.
With no firm evidence to suggest that either of the players was involved in match-fixing, the betting irregularities may have been part of the overall increase in betting activities around the French Open experiencing a 177% increase over a five-year period to reach €128 million ($135 million) in 2021.