Angelique Kerber and Johanna Konta advanced to the Australian Open semifinals today on another day when the integrity of tennis was part of the tournament conversation.
The first Grand Slam of the season has been overshadowed from the start by media reports alleging that tennis authorities had failed to thoroughly investigate evidence of match-fixing.
On Wednesday, just as Kerber began her 6-3, 7-5 win over two-time champion Victoria Azarenka in the quarterfinals, the governing bodies of tennis announced they will commission an independent review of their anti-corruption unit to restore “public confidence in our sport.”
In announcing the review, ATP Chairman Chris Kermode said the reports had “caused damage to the sport,” which compelled the major stakeholders in tennis—the International Tennis Federation, ATP and WTA tours, and the four Grand Slams—to take quick action to address the issue.
A BBC and Buzzfeed News report which coincided with the start of the Australian Open alleged 16 players—all ranked at some stage in the top 50 -- had been flagged for being involved in matches where suspicious betting activity was detected. No players were identified and no specifics were published, and many critics believed the data was based on matches that had already examined.
Philip Brook, chairman of the Tennis Integrity Board, said while the reports “did not reveal anything new, it was widely written about and has caused damage to our sport.” With that going on in the background, Konta went on court and beat Chinese qualifier Zhang Shuai 6-4, 6-1 to become the first British woman since 1983 to reach the semifinals of a Grand Slam.
It will be Konta’s first semifinal at a Grand Slam, and it ended Zhang’s seven-match winning streak, including three in qualifying.
“It will be my first match against her (Kerber),” Konta said. “She’s top 10. She’s an incredibly decorated and successful competitor and player. I’m just going to go out there and bring to the court what I can.”
The The 27-year-old Zhang entered the Australian Open with a 0-14 record in Grand Slam matches.