Marco Trungelliti opens up about match-fixing, being called a snitch and meeting Novak Djokovic

Shahida Jacobs
Marco Trungelliti on court
Marco Trungelliti in action

Marco Trungelliti delivered a wide-ranging interview with Argentine publication La Nacion as he talked about match-fixing, inequality in tennis and more.

The headline-grabbing part of the interview focused on tennis great Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal’s failure to help reduce inequality in the sport while they were at the top while the Argentine hailed Novak Djokovic for trying to change the status quo through his Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA).

But the major portion of the question and answer discussion with renowned journalist Sebastián Torok also focused on match-fixing, something that has become a big problem in tennis.

The Argentine was approached by match-fixers in 2015 and was told he could earn up to $100,000 for fixing a match at ATP Tour level. He turned down the advances and reported the incident to the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU).

An investigation followed and it resulted in bans for his compatriots Nicolas Kicker, Patricio Heras and Federico Coria.

And while Trungelliti was praised by tennis authorities for reporting the match-fixers, his life turned upside down as he was forced to flee Buenos Aires with some calling him a snitch.

He told La Nacion: “It was hard as time went by and the… bullying, pointing, a lot of little voices that I didn’t like began. And there I began to realise, in quotes, the mess I had gotten myself into. It’s like I began to experience everything that was seen in the movies: I’m referring to the fear that my family felt, to the general senselessness that we encountered… harsh, harsh.

“It is not a moment in my life that I remember with happiness. Yes, the fact that I had the courage to open my mouth. But internally it was hard. I went into a certain depression.”

READ MORE: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal slammed over ‘shameful and embarrassing’ inequality as Novak Djokovic is hailed

After spending several years in Andorra, he has finally returned home recently but the whole episode cut deep as he revealed that 24-time Grand Slam winner Djokovic had also been offered to fix matches in the past.

“It hurt me a lot. It was a deep pain because of who I was,” he said. “What I said was fulfilled and everything remained the same. Djokovic said he had been offered [money for] match-fixing.

“Sergiy Stakhovsky, who had called me a snitch, later came out to say that he was also offered. It’s like everything was falling into place, but he broke me, basically, because I didn’t expect it. That, in addition to how the ATP, the TIU, the Association and the ITF acted, was a tremendous combo, one stab after the other. All of these organisations fell far short of what is needed for things to improve.”

The former world No 112 also reserved praise for Djokovic as well as Vasek Pospisil – who is also a founder of the PTPA – while he was once again critical of 20-time major winner Federer.

“I met him [Djokovic] at the US Open and thanked him for what he is doing for the players,” he revealed. “I also spoke with Pospisil. I went to a couple of meetings, I asked him why he mortgaged his career for something that is for the good of everyone and he told me that when he was injured for many months he started to think about things and, despite having had more support than South Americans [with him] being Canadian, he was able to see life in general.

“That a crazy man who was among the [top] 30 in the world is in charge of thinking things through is much more respectable than what Federer does, who left tennis and only returned with the Laver Cup.”

And while tennis has made progress in the fight against match-fixing and addressing the inequality in the sport in recent years, a lot still needs to be done.

“The players who do it (the match-fixing) will have been a little more careful at first. I always say the same thing: the focus is on the players, but there are a lot of coaches who do it,” Trungelliti said.

“But until they really get to work and the ATP wants to change the system, not much is going to happen. I would say that this is an almost feudal system, from 200 years ago, with two per cent living as rich people and the rest dying; this is the same.

“Because the player who is outside No 100 cannot live. And in doubles, you have to be 60. They ignore you all the time, like you don’t exist unless you are 80 in the world. The one that hurts me the most, clearly, is Federer. Because with the weight and charisma that he has, if he really wanted to change things, they would be changed.”