ATP under fire

AP

The governing body of men’s tennis has done little or nothing to dilute the mounting insinuations that have washed over Nikolay Davydenko. It has now been left with egg on its face over the non-trying fine that should never have been imposed, writes Steve Bierley.

There has always been a suspicion, given Nikolay Davydenko’s personal attack in April on Etienne de Villiers, the chief executive of the ATP, accusing him of incompetence, that the Russian has been a marked man. The world No. 4 remains under investigation after a match he was involved in during August in Poland was the subject of irregular betting patterns, but he won his appeal against a £1,000 fine for allegedly not trying hard enough during a defeat by Croati a’s Marin Cilic in St. Petersburg in October.

“Following an extensive review of the match that included a full video analysis, it was decided that Davydenko’s appeal should be upheld and the fine rescinded,” said the ATP’s rule chief, Gayle Bradshaw. So why on earth was the Russian, who was injured, ever pulled up in the first place, and why was his playing integrity under question again during the Paris Masters? Small wonder that Ronnie Leitgeb, Davydenko’s Austrian manager, believes that so many of his problems stem from simple misunderstandings, a view that the ATP has done little to dispel prior to this decision. The betting investigation is ongoing although, according to Leitgeb, the ATP has failed to unearth any incriminating evidence against Davydenko.

It has done little or nothing to dilute the mounting insinuations that have washed over the Russian and has now been left with egg on its face over the non-trying fine that should never have been imposed. Worse, there was no official word of apology, which was disgraceful. Should the betting investigation also clear him, the pressure will mount on De Villiers’s leadership. Indeed the whole fabric of the ATP, an intrinsically flawed body, will come under increased scrutiny.

Leitgeb hopes the betting investigation will be resolved quickly. “I’ve seen signs of a real mental burn-out. Nikolay is the one who is suffering and still I cannot understand why the first thing Betfair did was to make a press announcement without talking to him, without talking to anybody. From the very beginning he didn’t get a fair chance on this.”

© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2007