On August 2, 2007 Russian Tennis Professional Nikolay Davydenko, World Number 4 was involved in a rather bizarre singles match in a tournament in Sopot, Poland against a player by the name of Martin Vassallo Arguello , ranked 87.
For some reason the lower ranked player from Argentina was indeed the favourite to win the match even after losing the first set 2-6 to a guy who was miles ahead of him in talent, ranking, prize money and lifestyle, just to name a few things. No one so far has been able to work out why this particular tennis match had so much money riding on it ( Over $7,000,000 ) and why it didn't in fact complete ( Davydenko retired in the third set while trailing 1-2 ).
The Russian did however go into the match lacking any form whatsoever despite his high ranking as he had lost in the first round of his previous two tournaments, both on clay which was the same surface as the one in Poland. Apparently only his family knew of his 'injury' that did seem legitimate as he was diagnosed with a stress fracture of the foot a week later in Canada.
The one thing that stands out the most about the 'injury' however is that he played in the Rogers Cup in Canada that week and made it through to the quarter finals where he picked up $49,000 in his loss to Stepanek. Two weeks later he made it to the semis of the US Open where he lost to Federer.
So back to Sopot, Poland. Even at a set down the Argentine player attracted large bets but that may have been because Davydenko commenced treatment at the change of ends early in the second set so the question is obvious. Who knew of the Russian's 'injury' before the match ? Correct me if I am wrong but an injured tennis player can still win a match so why was there so much money put on a guy ranked 83 positions lower in the rankings to win ?
So were all of the large bets ( one was over $500,000 ) relying on the injury to slow down Davydenko to such an extent that he would not be able to play at his full potential or was it a match where the result was already worked out between the players and they had relayed that result to certain 'shady' characters ?
Arguello it seems is the one who may struggle to hold his reputation a little more than Davydenko as there were no less than 82 texts to a gambling ring leader from Italy found on the Argentine's mobile phone. The majority of the content of those texts has never been released but we can all imagine what would have been relayed as far as match information was concerned. As much as there is a cloud hanging over Davydenko as far as his integrity is concerned there is nothing to suggest he actually played any part in it whatsoever with no mobile phone records leading to anyone who could damage his status.
So as far as questions are concerned regarding this particular match we are left with many but some of the obvious ones are ; # Did Davydenko get 'stage fright' and not hold his end of the bargain up if he was in fact paid a sum to lose and instead resort to the 'injury' ?
# Was it simply a match where the circumstances surrounding the Davydenko 'injury' spiralled out of control just like a share market stock that began a sharp rise but without too much substance to the reasons why ?
# If the 'injury' to Davydenko was so serious how on earth did he manage to have such a successful run in both the Rogers Cup in Canada and the US Open in New York in the following weeks after the event in Poland ?
The incident will quite possibly never be fully explained yet the 82 text messages on Arguello's phone obviously still weren't enough to find him guilty of any wrong doing despite one that said " He doesn't want to do it " and another that stated "He intends to win ".
So did Arguello speak to Davydenko before the match to ask him if he would throw it ? It seems that he may have from the texts but it also seems that Davydenko was not prepared to do it and maybe it all just revolved around an 'injury' cloud and poor form so in the end it was simply placed in the 'too hard basket' to find anyone guilty.
For the record Arguello lost in the next round to Albert Montanes of Spain. The Argentine won 8 Challenger singles events and a total of just over $1.4 Million Dollars in his career which included a fourth round showing at the French Open in 2006 and a highest ranking of 47 in 2009.
Davydenko won 21 ATP events and a total of just over $16 Million Dollars to go with his highest ranking of World Number 4.
Two vastly different players as far as talent and results were concerned yet two that have ended up on the same page in history for all the wrong reasons........