A sports gambling website suspended betting on a mixed doubles match Sunday at the Australian Open because a large amount of money came in on the obscure match.
According to Marco Blume, the head of the sportsbook at Pinnacle Sports, nearly all the money came in for the pairing of Andrea Hlavackova and Lukasz Kubot against Lara Arruabarrena and David Marrero, an indication that the match might be fixed.
"We saw a small number of people placing a large amount of money," Blume told The New York Times.
Blume said Pinnacle had seen no such betting behavior around any other match at this Australian Open. He said suspicious activity on the match began about 13 hours ahead of its scheduled start, and Pinnacle proceeded to cut off betting. Blume then contacted police in Melbourne's province to detail the possible irregularities.
"In context, these matches are rather small," Blume said. "That means that any aggressive betting behavior is very easy to detect on our side."
William Hill, another betting agency that is a sponsor of the Australian Open, said Monday that it didn't see any suspicious betting activity on the match. Betfair, based in London, told The Associated Press it kept betting open on the match.
Former Betfair executive Scott Ferguson, who works as a wagering industry consultant, told Fairfax Media that he believes Pinnacle Sports suspended betting in a "cheap grab at free publicity."
The action came on the heels of reports last week that the International Tennis Federation had failed to deal with 16 players who were repeatedly flagged on suspicion that they had thrown matches.
A spokeswoman for the ITF said the organization had not been notified of any suspicious activity, and the Tennis Integrity Unit, the sport's internal watchdog, would be notified before the ITF. A representative for the Tennis Integrity Unit declined to comment on the mixed doubles match.
The latest report came as a former top-200 tennis player from Australia, Nick Lindahl, pleaded guilty in a Sydney court to a match-fixing charge after prosecutors say he informed two people he would intentionally lose a match at a lower-tier tournament in 2013 so they could bet against him.
Hlavackova and Kubot won Sunday's match 6-0, 6-3 in a sweep that featured a first set that lasted just 20 minutes.
Hlavackova and Kubot said they were questioned by the Tennis Integrity Unit about the match but did not disclose details. They said they prefer to keep it confidential and said it was the first time they have been questioned on such a matter.
Both said they played 100 percent and did not think their opponents threw the match. They said they were too focused on their own game to notice whether Marrero had the knee injury he cited as a reason for the poor performance.
Arruabarrena and Marrero dismissed the idea that match fixing was involved.
Kubot said he didn't think players should be named without proof of match fixing.
"If you don't have 100 percent proof of the player, you should not mention the name," he said.
Kubot also said he felt bad for Lleyton Hewitt, whose name came up in reports without evidence.
Kubot is the 28th-ranked doubles player on the men's tour, and Hlavackova is 20th among women. Arruabarrena is the 33rd-ranked doubles player on the women's tour, and Marrero is ranked 32nd among men.
Neither Hlavackova nor Kubot was happy about being questioned about a match they won.
"It's not very comfortable to think that we didn't win the match on our terms because we played very well and we won,'' Hlavackova said. "So it's not comfortable to be questioned if somebody else was not playing 100 percent.''
Jamie Murray, who is also playing mixed doubles, was asked for his thoughts on the report.
"I don't know. I guess if it happened it's a shame, especially with all the stuff that came out last week, but I don't really know anything more about it than you guys do,'' he said. "If things are happening that shouldn't be happening, you need to find out how to stamp out that behavior.''
He said he didn't think fixing was any more likely in mixed doubles than singles. He said that determining which is more important -- singles or doubles -- is difficult.
"It's like asking a singles guy if doubles is more important," Murray said. "Yes, sometimes, but if he's doing well in singles, then in doubles he's not going to sweat for three hours when you have to play quarterfinals in Grand Slam singles.''
Information from ESPN's Jim Caple and The Associated Press was used in this report.