Good Girl, Bad Boy: Corrupt Behavior in Professional Tennis

34 Pages Posted: 15 Feb 2015 Last revised: 9 May 2017

See all articles by Michael Jetter

Michael Jetter

University of Western Australia; IZA

Jay K. Walker

Old Dominion University - Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: January 31, 2015


This paper identifies matches on the male and female professional tennis tours in which one player faces a high payoff from being “on the bubble” of direct entry into one of the lucrative Grand Slam tournaments, while their opposition does not. Analyzing over 378,000 matches provides strong evidence for corrupt behavior on the men's tour, as bubble players are substantially more likely to beat better ranked opponents when a win is desperately needed. However, we find no such evidence on the women’s tour. These results prevail throughout a series of extensions and robustness checks, highlighting gender differences regarding corrupt and unethical behavior, but also concerning collusion. We especially find evidence for collusion once monetary incentives are further increased. Finally, the market for sports betting does not seem to be aware of this phenomenon, suggesting a market imperfection and further confirming our suspicion of irregular activities in men’s tennis.

Keywords: cheating, corruption, gender differences, Oaxaca decomposition, sport, tennis

JEL Classification: D73, J16, L83, Z13

Suggested Citation

Jetter, Michael and Walker, Jay K., Good Girl, Bad Boy: Corrupt Behavior in Professional Tennis (January 31, 2015). Center for Research in Economics and Finance (CIEF), Working Papers, No. 15-04. Available at SSRN: or

Michael Jetter (Contact Author)

University of Western Australia ( email )

35 Stirling Highway
Crawley, Western Australia 6009

Jay K. Walker

Old Dominion University - Economics ( email )

Norfolk, VA 23529
United States


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