Who is Yana Sizikova? Russian tennis player arrested over alleged match-fixing at French Open released
Russian tennis player, Yana Sizikova, 26 had been arrested at the French Open on charges of alleged match-fixing. However, Sizikova has been released from police custody a day after she was arrested as part of an investigation into match-fixing at last year's French Open. The investigation began in October 2020 after suspicions of "organized fraud" and "sports corruption" were raised.
The doubles match concerning the arrest took place on September 30, 2020, at Roland Garros between Romanian pair Andreea Mitu and Patricia Mari vs Sizikova and American Madison Brengle. After bookmakers identified and reported irregular booking activity around the said match, an investigation was launched. Allegedly, hundreds of thousands of euros were bet on Sizikova losing her service game. The French Open tournament was also recently in the news when Naomi Osaka quit the tournament citing News Conference Dispute. Osaka mentioned that she has been suffering from 'depression' since 2018 and would like some time off the court. Osaka's decision caused a massive uproar and she's now facing possibilities of being barred from the French Open and Wimbledon.
What happened during 'the game'?
Sizikova lost the said game with her partner as she hit two double-faults and failed to reach the ball after being forced back to the baseline as the fifth game of the second set went to Mitu and Mari. After losing the fifth game, Sizikova returned to the court in between the change of ends to practice her serve but struck another fault into the net. Shortly after the match, French prosecutors probed an investigation into 'fraud in an organised group' and 'active and passive corruption'.
While FFT kept mum on the matter, a source claimed that the arrest was related to match-fixing allegations. Shamil Tarpischev, president of the Russian Tennis Federation, informed the RIA news agency that he has knowledge of Sizikova's arrest. "We have not received any documents (regarding the case), so it's difficult to make an assessment of what has happened, "Tarpischev said. TASS news agency also reported that the Russian embassy in Paris had been made aware of the situation.
Sizikova was taken into custody shortly after she failed to win in her first-round doubles match on June 3 at Roland Garros. Sizikova and her partner Yekaterina Alexandrova were defeated 6-1, 6-1 by Ajla Tomljanovic and Storm Sanders in less than an hour. She was reportedly arrested as she was coming out of her massage session following her first-round match. Sizikova's hotel room was also searched, according to the Le Parisien newspaper which first reported her arrest. The International Tennis Integrity Agency, which deals with corruption in the sport has not commented on the situation yet.
"Yana Sizikova is shocked and rejects charges of crimes she has never committed... these accusations harm her reputation," her lawyer Frederic Belo told the Tass news agency, adding that she intends to file a complaint for libel.
Who is Yana Sizikova?
Born on June 20, 1994, in Mosco, Sizikova competed at Roland Garros for the first time in 2020. She reached the highest doubles WTA ranking at 89 in March 2020 just months before the incident in question. She has had a career-high ranking of 336 in the women's singles game. Sizikova's current women's doubles ranking is 101 and she has earned a total of $206,617 (£146,310) in prize money over her 11-year career.
The Russian Tennis Federation did not respond to a request for comment over the incident.
What are the charges?
Belo said he was not sure if Sizikova would be allowed to leave France, explaining that she was "accused of sporting corruption, which is punishable by five years in prison and a 500,000 euro ($608,000; £430,000) fine. "She is also suspected of fraud as part of an organized group. Under this article, she could face up to five years in prison and a fine of 300,000 euros ($365,000; £260,000)," Belo said.