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Novak Djokovic Beats Andy Murray To Win Australian Open
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Novak Djokovic Beats Andy Murray To Win Australian Open

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Novak Djokovic Beats Andy Murray To Win Australian Open

Novak Djokovic Beats Andy Murray To Win Australian Open
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Rachel Martin talks tennis and the Australian Open with Mike Pesca, host of Slate's "The Gist."

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Time now for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTIN: Well, it was kind of a quiet sporting week here in the U.S., not so in Australia. Tennis fans around the world are glued to the Australian Open. Mike Pesca's also been up late watching. He's host of "The Gist" from Slate.

Good morning, Mike.

MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: I'm unstuck now.

MARTIN: (Laughter).

PESCA: No more glue.

MARTIN: Oh, good. I'm so glad.

I glanced at a newspaper headline this morning, so I know that Djokovic - I always hesitate it because I always say that wrong - Djokovic...

PESCA: Yes.

MARTIN: Novak Djokovic beat Andy Murray in the final. But beyond that, I know nothing, so fill in the contours.

PESCA: Djokovic had one of the great tennis seasons of all time in 2015, and now he's won his 11th Grand Slam. And that ties Bjorn Borg and Ron (ph) Laver, the man in whose arena he played. I'm not going to say it was over before it started, but he did break Murray's serve immediately and won 6-1 in the first set and won in straight sets, and now his record against Murray is 23-9. And Murray's the second-best player (laughter) on the tour pretty clearly, especially with Nadal's health not so great, so Djokovic is the man.

MARTIN: There is a shadow, though, looming over this treatment. It had been. All these recent allegations about match fixing - can you catch us up to speed on that particular controversy?

PESCA: Well, some people might not even know that in England, where gambling is legal on sporting events, tennis is the second most popular thing to gamble on other than soccer. And this is a - you know, football as they call it - this is a country where horseracing is very established. Tennis offers year-round play, and there are people from every continent who've been champions. But also, it gives rise to the specter of match fixing, and that seems to have happened. The website BuzzFeed, along with the BBC, did a massive investigation. They unveiled their findings right before the Australian Open, and it indicated that there are 16 core players on the men's side who have been engaged in some level of match fixing. These players are in the top 50. A lot of them, they said, were at the Australian Open. They didn't name the players, but they seemed to have a lot of good evidence that this was going on. And it's especially easy to see why it would happen because when we say top 50, that seems impressive. But at the lower rungs, a lot of these guys are playing tournaments where the prize money might be a couple hundred dollars for the first round, but the amount gambled on that first round match might be in the thousands. And so, tennis has a pretty serious problem that they haven't been doing a lot to address.

MARTIN: Yes. So what do they do?

PESCA: Well, they - all the federations got together and - this might sound like they're punting - oh, I just made a bad gambling pun.

MARTIN: (Laughter).

PESCA: But this might sound like they're just saying we hired a blue ribbon commission, but that's essentially what they did. But they said they gave the outside investigator, a guy named Adam Smith, a sports lawyer, plenty of teeth. They're going to implement his findings. And it just seems to me that in this incredibly rich sport when you have something called the Tennis Integrity Unit...

MARTIN: Yeah.

PESCA: ...And they're funded to the tune of about $2 million a year, you're just asking for not - you're just asking for trouble. So they have to fund the investigative arm more seriously or else the sport will start being looked at a-sconce (ph).

MARTIN: A-sconce - we don't want that.

(Laughter)

MARTIN: Mike Pesca is the host of "The Gist" from Slate. Thanks so much, Mike.

PESCA: If it's askance, I apologize.

MARTIN: Askance, asconce, whatev - tomato, tomah-to. Buh-bye.

PESCA: Bye.

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