Federer says he asked IMG executive about bets

Posted Nov. 10, 2010, at 12:08 p.m.
Last modified Nov. 10, 2010, at 7:20 p.m.

PARIS — Roger Federer has denied any involvement in alleged high-stakes gambling by an executive from his management company.

The Swiss tennis star said Wednesday at the Paris Masters that he contacted IMG executive Ted Forstmann after learning of a lawsuit in which Forstmann is accused of betting millions on sporting events, including the 2007 French Open final that Federer lost to Rafael Nadal.

“I reached out to him just to know everything about the case,” Federer said. “That’s all I did. I gave a straight answer at Shanghai (Masters) about what I thought about it, but it’s disappointing that my name gets thrown around for something I have no control over.”

Forstmann, whose company also owns and operates some professional tennis tournaments, does not represent Federer. Tony Godsick of IMG is his agent.

“Ted Forstmann is not my agent, he is head of IMG. That’s clear. He owns the company, and I’m sure he learned his lesson through that,” Federer said. “But he also gave me straight answers about what’s going on and that’s OK for me.”

Forstmann is being sued in Los Angeles County Superior Court by Agate Printing Inc. for fraud, interference with contract and breach of contract. In the complaint, which seeks extensive damages for lost business Forstmann allegedly promised, Agate Printing executive Jim Agate claims to have served as a conduit for Forstmann’s gambling.

Forstmann acknowledged betting on Federer and gambling on sports in general, but rejected Agate’s claim that he increased bets on Federer after consulting with him.

“I might have called Roger before the match in 2007,” Forstmann told the website The Daily Beast. “But Roger is a buddy of mine, and all I would be doing is wishing him luck.”

Agate’s lawsuit claims that Forstmann bet $5,000 on Federer to win the 2006 French Open final, a match he also lost to Nadal, and the following year placed bets of $22,000 and $11,000 on Federer to win on June 9, the day before the men’s final.

Although Grand Slam tennis tournaments have rules barring players from gambling on matches, there are no rules prohibiting agents or other members of player entourages from betting on tennis. In 2007, there also was no rule barring players providing “insider information” to a gambler, although that was changed in January 2009 amid concerns about potential match-fixing.

“I just think that’s a bad thing that people who might be closer to the game are betting on our sport,” Federer said. “But you can’t control, sometimes, what other people do. All I can do, myself and my team, is make sure we don’t do anything that’s not allowed.”

Federer eased into the third round of the Paris Masters on Wednesday with a 6-4, 6-4 win over local Richard Gasquet.

Defending champion Novak Djokovic and third-seeded Andy Murray also advanced.

Fresh off his victory at the Swiss Indoors, where he won his 65th title last week, Federer converted his first break point for a 2-1 lead with a sharp forehand volley. He closed out the first set with an ace after losing only three points on his serve.

Gasquet saved three break points in the first game of the second set to even it 40-all but stopped playing after misjudging a shot from Federer that was in. Gasquet then sent a backhand long and Federer held his serve to lead 2-0.

Federer sealed the win on his first match point to improve his record against Gasquet to 7-1, losing their first meeting five years ago.

Eighth-seeded Andy Roddick took a big step toward qualifying for the ATP World Tour Finals by beating Jarkko Nieminen 6-1, 6-4.

Roddick never looked in trouble against the Finn and didn’t face a single break point as he broke his opponent three times.

Only the top eight players qualify for the ATP Finals in London from Nov. 21-28, with No. 1 Rafael Nadal, Federer, Djokovic, Murray and Robin Soderling having already booked their places.

“Every match I win is significant at this point,” Roddick said. “Puts more pressure on the guys behind me. I have a pretty good shot no matter how I do here this week.”

Roddick is in eighth place in the rankings and will be guaranteed a spot at the year-end tournament unless Fernando Verdasco reaches the final in Paris or Jurgen Melzer wins the tournament.

No. 11 Melzer progressed with a 6-3, 7-6 (6) win over Santiago Giraldo.

Roddick, who plays Ernests Gulbis of Latvia in the third round, lost only five of the 29 points played on his first serve.

The former U.S. Open champion, who reached the semifinals twice at the Paris Masters, broke Nieminen immediately to take a 3-0 lead after winning his serve at love.

Roddick then took Nieminen’s serve in the sixth game with a crosscourt forehand winner and broke again in the third game of the second set when his opponent sent a backhand wide.

Nieminen saved two match points but Roddick served two consecutive winners to close out the match.

Roddick said he was happy with the speed of the court, which is faster this year and suits his offensive style of play.

“I believe it’s become so monotonous as far as what you get. Grass is slow and indoors has turned slow,” Roddick said. “So I think it’s fair … They have less time to return. If you actually stick a volley you get rewarded.”

Djokovic overcame a slow start and an early break in the first set to beat Juan Monaco of Argentina 6-4, 6-3.

The second-seeded Serb struggled on his first serve but fended off seven of eight break points and took Monaco’s serve three times. He’ll play Michael Llodra, who beat No. 16 John Isner of the United States 6-3, 6-4.

Murray also had some problems in his 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory over David Nalbandian. He received treatment for an apparent wrist injury during the final set.

“My wrist feels OK just now,” Murray said. “I have had a few problems with it in the past, and I felt quite a sharp pain. I’ll just have to wait and see if it’s still fine tomorrow.”

Murray plays No. 13 Marin Cilic, who beat Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.

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