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Gambling probe at the US Open

US Open – Concerns over the match fixing probe involving fourth seed Nikolay Davydenko cast a dark shadow over the US Open on the eve of the Grand Slam event.

Davydenko, a 26-year-old Russian, and semifinalist here 12 months ago, will begin the year’s final Grand Slam event on Monday against US wildcard Jesse Levine still dogged by a second-round withdrawal earlier this month.

Internet sportsbook Betfair refused to pay punters on Davydenko’s loss in an ATP match in Poland, in which Argentina’s Martin Vassallo Arguello won 2-6, 6-3, 2-1 when Davydenko retired with a foot injury.

Seven-million dollars in wagers, abot 10 times more than normal for such a match, swung to Arguello even after Davydenko won the first set. That irregularity touched off a probe into the matter.

“It’s disappointing,” US fifth seed Andy Roddick said. “You don’t want to hear about it. You don’t want tennis’ storylines to be that. “I’m happy that at least they are putting forth the effort to investigate it, take care of it and try to make sure it’s an isolated incident.”

With the NBA facing a similar problem after a referee was caught gambling on games, Roddick knows the impact a broader scandal could have upon his sport.

A notice posted by the US Tennis Association at the US Open vowed punishment for anyone providing aid to gamblers.

“The participation in or aiding and abetting, directly or indirectly, with any form of gambling or betting involving tennis is strictly prohibited,” the posting read.

“The USTA has a zero-tolerance policy on gambling or betting involving tennis and any violation of such policy will result in immediate disciplinary action.”

Russia’s top-ranked woman, second seed Maria Sharapova, said the turmoil surrounding her homeland’s top-rated man has not aroused any concerns on the WTA circuit. “It doesn’t seem like the WTA Tour has any issues with it,” Sharapova said.

ATP Tour executive chairperson Etienne de Villiers has kept players informed about the matter.