- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 28, 2006

1:07 p.m.

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — Tennis officials today were investigating reports of irregular betting activity surrounding a first-round match at Wimbledon between a British player and a higher-ranked opponent who lost in straight sets.

British media said up to $546,000 of wagers were placed on No. 89 Carlos Berlocq of Argentina to lose the match Tuesday. He lost 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 to Richard Bloomfield, who is ranked 170 places below him and got into the draw as a wild card.

“In the Grand Slams, we have an agreement with [betting agencies] to give us confidential information if unusual betting patterns take place,” Grand Slam administrator Bill Babcock told Associated Press. “It may be nothing, or it may be something.

“Our rules at Grand Slams are that players cannot bet. We receive information, and we have no more comment to make unless there is something further in the way of a player offense.”

London media said bets on the match were about 30 times more than had been placed on similar British players and foreign opponents. The betting activity led the online gambling company Betfair to slash the odds on Bloomfield winning the match from 1-2 to 1-10.

Betfair said it alerted the International Tennis Federation and Britain’s Lawn Tennis Association to the unusual betting pattern.

“We contacted the ITF Grand Slam Committee and the LTA to make them aware of betting patterns before the match,” Betfair spokesman Tony Calvin said.

“We have information-sharing agreements with both these bodies. Although the amounts involved were not unusual, the betting patterns were. Bloomfield was backed from an opening 1-2 on Betfair to a low of 1-10 pre-match, and this led us to contact the ITF.”

Babcock would not confirm he had received information from bookmakers.

“We will not comment on information we receive unless there is something to report,” he said. “Maybe just somebody was betting for a good reason.”

The 23-year-old Bloomfield, who was knocked out in the first round at Wimbledon in 2003 and 2004, had never won a match on the main ATP Tour.

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