Guide to Betting on Tennis

Tennis is a sport played around the world, and it’s becoming increasingly
popular with fans looking to get into betting.

Tennis ranks behind only soccer
(football) and horse racing in terms of money generated for bookmakers in the
United Kingdom, and there is good reason that more and more people want a piece
of the action: it’s an intriguing game that offers a wide array of markets, and
tournaments take place throughout the year.

Are you missing out and want to learn more?

Read on…

A Beginner’s Guide to Tennis

Before we jump into how a game of tennis is played, let’s start with the very
basics: where tennis is played. Tennis takes place on a rectangular court that
is divided into two halves by a net across the middle. Each half of the court as
two sides, the deuce side (the right) and the ad side (the left). On each side
of the court there is a service box which runs from the net until just over half
way to the edge of the court (the baseline). When serving, a player will look to
hit the ball into their opponent’s service box diagonally across from where they
are serving from. There are alleys running the length of the court which are out
in a singles match, but are in play in a game of doubles.

Now that we’ve got a lay of the land let’s get to grips with the scoring
system – and be warned, it’s a little strange! Each player begins the game with
‘0’ except this isn’t your regular zero. In tennis, when a player has ‘0’ it’s
called ‘love’. Winning one point will take you to 15, a second point to 30, a
third to 40, and if a player wins a fourth point then they will win the game –
unless the players were at ‘deuce’ that is. ‘Deuce’ is the term used when the
score is 40-40. From there, the winner of the next point will go to ‘advantage’.
If that same player wins the next point they will also win the game, but if they
lose the point, the score returns to deuce.

A game forms part of a ‘set’ which is played to six or seven, with a player
needing to win by two games. So, if a player is 6-5 up, they have the
chance to win 7-5. If both players reach six games each then the set moves to a
tiebreaker which you can think of as an additional game that’s played to seven
points. A tennis match consists of either three or five sets depending on the

Ready for the action now? To get a tennis match underway, the players (or
teams) stand on opposite sides of the net. One player will serve the ball to the
other, aiming to land the ball into the service box diagonally across from where
they’re serving from. The player serving (known as the ‘server’) will start from
the right side of the court and has two opportunities to get the ball into play.
If they fail to get it in play on their first go then that’s a ‘fault’. If they
can’t get the ball in play with their second serve too then it’s a ‘double
fault’ and they lose the point.

For now assume that you’re dealing with a great server who hits the ball into
the correct serve box at the first attempt. From there the players hit the ball
back and forth until one player hits a ‘winner’ (the ball bounces in the court
and their opponent can’t return it) or one player commits an ‘error’ (the ball
is hit into the net or outside of the court). The winner of the point gets 15
and the loser gets 0, taking the score to 15-0 or ‘fifteen-love’. From
there the players slog it out to win the game, the set, and eventually the

The Fundamental Rules

It’s time to delve a little deeper into some of the essential rules of


Tennis’ scoring system may seem a bit confusing (or fairly arbitrary) at
first, but we’ve once you get the hang of it things are pretty straightforward.

As we’ve already briefly been over, every game begins with the players on
zero or ‘love’. From there the scoring goes like this:

  • Winning one point will take you to 15
  • A second point to 30
  • A third point to 40
  • A fourth point could win you the game

However, that’s where ‘deuce’ comes in. If the scores are level at 40-40 then
the score then one of the players need to win two consecutive points to win the
game. If a player wins one more point then the score moves to ‘advantage’. If
they then lose the next point the score returns to deuce. That process can go on
indefinitely, but it’s usually not too long before the game is resolved.

To win a set, a player must win six games by a margin of two or more games.

Once again there is a catch though: if a player is 6-5 ahead, they have the
opportunity to win that game and take the set 7-5. However, if they don’t win
the game and the scores are then tied, the set moves to a tiebreak.

A tiebreak is a race to seven points, but like in the set itself, a player
needs to win by two points. The scoring system in a tiebreaker is different to
that of a normal game, with the score simply going 0, 1, 2, 3 etc. The order in
which the players serve is also different. The player who received serve in the
preceding game serves first in the tiebreaker. They serve the first point of the
tiebreak, after which their opponent serves twice. From there, the players
rotate serving, with each player serving twice per turn. When six points have
been played and then for each multiple of six after that, the players switch

Matches are played over three or five sets. In women’s tennis, a
best-of-three format is always used, while in men’s tennis the same format is
used for many ATP Tour events, but in grand slams, men play best-of-five set


The serve is an all important weapon in a tennis player’s arsenal, and it’s
also fundamental to learning about the game as the serve is where play begins.

A few key rules to remember about serving:

  • A pre-match coin toss determines which player serves first.
  • Players alternate which side of the court they serve from, with the right side (the ‘deuce side’) always served from first
  • The server will aim to hit the ball into the service box diagonally across from them.
  • At no stage can the server’s feat move in front of the baseline before the serve. Should they do so, a foot-fault is called.
  • If the server misses with their first serve (it goes into the net or outside the court), they have served a fault.
  • If a fault is served, a player can make use of their second serve. If another fault is served then it is a double fault and the server loses the point.
  • If a serve clips the top of the net it is called a ‘let’. If the serve hit the net and went into the service box then they don’t lose a serve. However, if the serve clips the net and goes outside of the service box it is a fault.
  • There receiver does not have to stand in a particular position, but it is standard for them to take up a position on or just outside the baseline diagonally across from the server.
  • Once a serve is in play, a rally ensues and play is only ended when one player hits the ball into the net or outside of the court.

General Play

Once a point is underway there are a few basic regulations:

  • A player cannot hit the ball twice
  • A player must hit the ball before it bounces for a second time
  • The ball must be hit within the boundaries of the court to remain in play
  • If the ball hits the line or any part of the line, it is in
  • If a player touches the net either with their body or their racket, they lose the point
  • If the ball is hit into the net, the point is ended

Easy, isn’t it?


There are two types of officials who enforce the rules during a match, line
umpires and the chair umpire.

Line umpires work in teams of up to nine officials, and are responsible for
calling whether or not a ball is in play. They, as the name suggests, are
stationed to view specific lines of play.

The chair umpire oversees the game from an elevated chair that is in line
with the net. The chair umpire has the final say on all calls, and can overrule
the decision of the line umpires. The chair umpire is responsible for keeping
score, and calls out the score to the players at the end of each point.
Additionally, the chair umpire is also charged with ensuring players obey the
rules of the game and can hand out penalties (known as ‘code violations’) if the
rules are infringed upon.

There are two additional off-court officials, the tournament referee is
charged with ensuring that the tournament as a whole is played to the rules of
tennis, and a chief umpire who appoints chair umpires to matches and is in
charge of the administrative side of umpiring.

The A-Z of Tennis

One of the most important and also most confusing parts of learning a new
sport is the terminology associated. Sometimes it can sound like the
sportscasters and your friends are speaking another language of sorts. To help
you out with this, we have put together a full glossary of tennis related terms
for you to review or reference when needed.

How Tennis is Run

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) is the governing body of all things
tennis, including beach tennis which we bet you didn’t even know was a sport (we
didn’t either).

The ITF is affiliated with 211 national tennis associations and six regional
associations, and is charged with the administration and regulation of the
sport, organizing international competitions, and developing and promoting the

The ITF partners with the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and the
Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) to govern professional tennis. The ITF remains
responsible for organizing grand slams, the Fed Cup, the Davis Cup, tennis at
the Olympics and the Futures-level tournaments.


Originally created in the 1970s to protect the rights of professional men’s
tennis players, since 1990 the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) has
organized the premier men’s tennis tour, the ATP World Tour. In addition, the
ATP manages the Seniors Tour.

The ATP World Tour comprises of: the ATP World Tour Masters 1000, ATP World
Tour 500 Series, and ATP World Tour 250 tournaments.

The ATP also oversees the ATP World Rankings, the merit-based system which
determines the rankings of players. The ATP Rankings are in place for both
singles and doubles, and are used for determining qualification for all
tournaments and the seedings used in them.

The seven-member ATP Board of Directors governs the ATP together with a
12-man Player Council, and a Tournament Council made up of 13 representatives
from across the globe.


Like the ATP, the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has its origins in the
1970s, and evolved into the primary organizer of women’s professional tennis.

The WTA comprises of: Premier Tournaments, International Tournaments, and the
WTA 125k Series.

The WTA has its own ranking system, it too is a merit-based, rolling 52-week,
cumulative system that ranks both singles and doubles players. It is used to
determine who qualifies for an event, and how players are ranked at tournaments.

The WTA is governed by a board of directors, with an eight-member Players’
Council set up as a sub-committee to advocate the opinions of the players.

A Brief History of Tennis

What do European monks, French Kings, and King Henry XIII have in common?
We’ll forgive you for not guessing that they were all tennis pioneers! Yes,
tennis is believed to have its roots in 12th century Europe when monks in Italy
and France struck balls with the bare hands in a game known as jeu de paume or
‘game of the hand’.

As the sport developed into ‘real tennis’ it soon became popular with the
aristocracy and first King Louis X of France and later King Charles V of France
took a liking to the game which by this stage was played with paddles, the
precursor to rackets. Across the Channel in England, King Henry VIII was not to
be outdone, and had a court built at the Royal Palace of Hampton Court – one
which still exists today.

It was in England – many years after the King had met his demise – that ‘lawn
tennis’ rose to prominence and the foundations of modern tennis were laid. It’s
Major Charles Wingfield who is credited as the founder of the modern game, and
in 1874 Wingfield patented the equipment and rules for the game of tennis.

The All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club made a few tweaks to Wingfield’s
game that included changing the court to a rectangle, and allowing for over-arm
serving. Remarkably, just three years after Wingfield patented the game the
first edition of Wimbledon was held.

Tennis continued to be refined in the years that followed, but by the 1890s
tennis had reached a stage of development that produced a game not too
dissimilar from what we know tennis as today. In fact, tennis’ rules and scoring
system have changed little in the last 120 years, with the addition of the
tiebreak in the 1970s one of the few major changes.

The crown jewels of the sport, the grand slams, originated during this period
of development, with the US Open hosted for the first time in 1881 – four years
after the maiden edition of Wimbledon – with the French Open (1891), and
Australian Open (1905) following not too long after.

It was in the 1920s that players began to play tennis professionally, but it
was not until 1968, the dawn of the Open Era, that professionals were able to
play in all events. Before that point, only amateurs were able to play in the
grand slams. The Open Era saw a professional circuit develop, and the
Association of Tennis Players (ATP) and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA)
were formed to look after the interests of the players.

There has been no looking back from that point with tennis now a global sport
that has seen the rise of worldwide superstars the likes of Roger Federer and
Serena Williams. Revenue from television rights and advertising means that
tennis’ top players are among the richest in the world; Federer walked away with
$2,882,660 for winning the 2017 men’s singles title at Wimbledon, a far cry from
the $18 awarded to Spencer Gore for winning the inaugural edition of the

Tennis Legends

Betting on tennis comes down to picking winners and losers. One of the best
ways to start learning how to pick winners and losers is to study some of the
legends of the sport. You can see how their styles worked and didn’t work and
use that to your advantage moving forward. Also, knowing these people will help
you to fit in when discussions happen at the bar or around the courts. If you
don’t know the most famous tennis players of all time, people will be confused
and look at you funny.

Tennis’ Big Events

The Grand Slams

Tennis has four grand slam events: the Australian Open, the French Open,
Wimbledon, and the US Open. These are the most prestigious tournaments on the
calendar, and offer the most prize money, ranking points, and, of course, fame.

Contested over two weeks, grand slams have five categories – men’s singles,
women’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s doubles, and mixed doubles. Players can
participate in multiple categories, and many do so with much success. In
addition, there are junior’s championships and wheelchair championships.

Australian Open

The Australian Open, the opening grand slam of the year, is played on the
hard courts of Melbourne Park in Melbourne, Australia from mid-January.

The first Australian Open was first held in 1905, and, in a lesser-known
piece of trivia gold, was originally held on grass. The tournament was not
designated a grand slam until 1924, and was held in five Australian cities and
two New Zealand cities (so much for the ‘Australian’ Open…) before it settled in
Melbourne in 1972.

The Melbourne Park complex has played host to the tournament since 1988, and
the venue has boasted a number of firsts. It was at the Australian Open that
retractable roofs were first used in the case of rain or extreme heat. The show
courts – the Rod Laver Arena, Margaret Court Arena and the Hisense Arena -are
all equipped with retractable roofs. Blazing-hot temperatures can make the
Australian Open even more of a challenge, with the event forced to adopt an
‘extreme heat policy’ after criticism that players were forced to play in
dangerously hot temperatures; In 2014, when temperatures reached 111.0 °F, a
number of players collapsed (one even began to hallucinate), while others said
their shoes and water bottles were melting!

Despite the penchant for hot conditions, the Australian Open has set the bar
for crowd attendance. In 2017, the Australian Open was attended by 728,763
people, bettering the previous record at a grand slam which was held by the 2009
US Open which was attended by 721,059 people.

Prize money isn’t in short supply at the Australian Open either.

Federer and Serena Williams each walked away with a healthy bounty of
AUD$3,700,000 (roughly USD$2,800,000) for winning the 2017 singles titles.

Not bad for two week’s work!

Williams is the most successful women’s singles player at the Australian Open
in the Open Era, bagging the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup seven times. Novak
Djokovic leads the way in the men’s singles race, with the Serbian having taken
home the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup on six occasions.

French Open

In May and early June of each year, the tennis roadshow heads to Paris,
France for the Championnats Internationaux de France de tennis, known to us
commoners as the ‘French Open’ or simply ‘Roland Garros’.

The French Open is held on the clay courts of the Stade Roland-Garros (hence
the nickname), a surface which makes it a unique challenge – one that has been
too great for some of the game’s greatest players. On grass and hard courts it’s
a big serve and booming groundstrokes that are a recipe for success, while on
clay players are forced to contend with a surface that is slower and produces a
higher bounce, resulting in longer rallies and play from behind the baseline.

Founded in 1981, the French Open has been played at Roland Garros since as
early as 1928, lending the event an extra layer of historical charm. The Roland
Garros complex comprises of 20 courts, including three stadium courts: Court
Philippe Chatrier, Court Suzanne Lenglen, and Court 1.

The tournament holds the honor of being the first grand slam to include
amateurs and professionals, embracing the term ‘open’ in 1968. The French Open
offers less prize money than the other three majors on the calendar, but with
€2,100,000 up for grabs for the winner of the men’s and women’s singles, it’s
still a bounty that shouldn’t be scoffed at!

Rafael Nadal is the undisputed ‘King of Clay’, and the Spaniard claimed a
record 10th title at Roland Garros in 2017 – forget a trophy cabinet, Nadal will
need a whole room to fit all 10 of his Coupe des Mousquetaires! In the women’s
singles, there were records of a different nature being set in 2017, with
20-year-old Jelena Ostapenko claiming the coveted Coupe Suzanne Lenglen, a
trophy that was not only here first grand slam title, but also her first at full
Tour level!


Wimbledon is considered the pinnacle of tennis by many fans and players; as
the oldest tennis tournament in the world, it’s layered with history and
tradition that sets it apart from the rest.

First held in 1877 at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in London,
England, Wimbledon or ‘The Championships, Wimbledon’ as the event is officially
called, is the only grand slam still played on grass. The tournament gets
underway on the first Monday in July, and depending on the unpredictable British
weather can either be plagued by rain or searing heat more commonly associated
with the Australian Open! The All England Club comprises of 19 courts, with the
two show courts, Centre Court and Court One, only used for Wimbledon.

Wimbledon involves a number of traditions which make it both unmistakably
English and a unique event. The tournament has historically been closely linked
with British royalty, and until 2003 players bowed or curtsied to members of the
royal family seated in the Royal Box when they entered or left Centre Court.
Yes, in the 21st century tennis players were still bowing and curtsying! Staying
on the theme of being prim and proper, at Wimbledon there is no men’s or women’s
events, but rather the competitions are referred to as the ‘Gentlemen’s’ and
‘Ladies” events.

Purple and green might be the official colors of Wimbledon, but don’t expect
to see much color on the players, with strict uniform rules asserting that
players can only wear white, with the outfitter’s logo the exception. It’s not
just the players at Wimbledon who may look a little different, but also the
courts: there is no advertising on or around the Wimbledon courts. Despite this
lack of advertising, Wimbledon still holds the longest running sponsorship in
sports history, having made use of Slazenger since 1902.

It was at Wimbledon where ball boys and ball girls first came to the fore.
For many years the ball kids were selected from a local orphanage, but in more
recent years it’s the local schools where children are chosen from. As you would
expect, ball kids are dressed in purple and green, and their behavior is

All this may appear a little bit over the top, but whether you’re a fan at
the All England Club sitting on the hill watching the action while eating
strawberries and cream or enjoying the tennis from the comfort of your sofa,
there is something very special about Wimbledon.

The winners of the gentleman’s and ladies’ singles titles at Wimbledon each
pocket £2,200,000 in addition a piece of silverware.

The ladies champion is
presented with the Venus Rosewater Dish, and the gentleman’s winner takes home
the Gentlemen’s Singles Trophy which comes with the an inscription befitting the
tournament: “All England Lawn Tennis Club Single Handed Championship of the

The legendary Roger Federer racked up his eighth Wimbledon title in 2017, a
new record for men’s singles titles won. However, the Swiss maestro is still one
behind Martina Navratilova who has nine women’s singles titles to her name.

US Open

The US Open takes place on the hard courts of the USTA Billie Jean King
National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York. The tournament kicks off
on the last Monday of August so that the middle weekend of the event coincides
with the Labor Day weekend.

The US Open has its roots in the U.S. National Championship which first took
place in 1881 in Newport, Rhode Island, making it one of tennis’ oldest
tournaments. The tournament moved to the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing
Meadows, Queens in 1978 and it was then that it made a permanent switch to hard
courts, having first been played on grass and then clay.

While the Australian Open is also played on a hard court, the surfaces at the
two venues does differ slightly, with the Pro DecoTurf surface on offer at
Flushing Meadows producing less bounce than other hard courts. The courts also
look slightly different – while the Australian Open courts are entirely blue,
there area around the courts at the US Open are green to help viewers
distinguish the playing surface.

The USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center boasts 22 courts – four show
courts (Arthur Ashe Stadium, Louis Armstrong Stadium, Grandstand and Court 17,
also known as ‘The Pit’), 13 field courts, and five practice courts. The
22,547-seater Arthur Ashe Stadium is the world’s largest tennis venue.

The prize money on offer at the US Open is also the largest on offer in the
sport, with a pool of $46.3 million split between the players.

The winner of the men’s and women’s singles each secure a massive $3.5 million.

In 2006, the US Open delivered a first in grand slam tennis when it
introduced instant replay reviews of umpire and line judge calls, with a system
known as ‘Hawk-Eye‘. The system is now used at all grand slams and most major

The US Open differs from other grand slams in that there are tiebreakers in
every set – at other grand slams there is no tiebreaker in the final set (the
third set for women, and the fifth set for men).

Jimmy Connors, Pete Sampras, and Roger Federer share the honor of having won
the most men’s singles titles at the US Open (five). Chris Evert and Serena
Williams top the charts among the women’s singles winners with six titles each.

Tour Tennis

The grand slams are undoubtedly the crown jewels of tennis, but there are
plenty of other prizes to play for. Most notably the end-of-season Tour Finals.
The regular season on the ATP and WTA Tours is structured in a similar fashion,
but there are a few differences.

Men’s Tennis

The main ATP Tour has three levels: Masters 1000, 500 series, and 250 series.

The Masters Series consists of the year’s nine Masters 1000 events (named as
such for the number of ranking points on offer), and culminates with the ATP
Tour Finals which features the top-eight ranked players. Four of the Masters
1000 tournaments – Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid, and Beijing – are held
concurrently with the WTA, creating a crackerjack 10 days of tennis that at
times can feel a bit like a grand slam.

The eleven ATP Tour 500 series tournaments still have a lot to offer when it
comes to prize money – the winner of the Dubai Tennis Championships takes home
nearly two million dollars – and with 500 ranking points on offer they are still
important events.

The 250 series tournaments are a little lower key as players fight it out for
ranking points to get to the bigger events.

A level below that is the Challenger Tour which players ranked lower than 80
take part in. This is the lowest level run by the ATP, and prize money ranges
from US$25,000 and US$150,000.

The Futures Tour, which is administered by the ITF Men’s Circuit, is the
lowest level of professional tennis. Players can still win US$10,000 and
US$15,000, and there are some pretty interesting tournament venues like Sri
Lanka and Zimbabwe!

Women’s Tennis

Over on the women’s circuit, it’s the ‘Premier’ events which are the most
prestigious. There are three levels of ‘Premier’ events: Premier Mandatory,
Premier 5, and Premier.

‘Premier Mandatory’ might not sound like a tournament you want to play in,
but these are the events held together with the ATP Tour and that provide the
most ranking points and prize money. No surprises here in that there are five
‘Premier 5’ events, while there are 12 ‘Premier’ tournaments.

Like on the ATP Tour, the WTA Tour ends with a huge finale, the WTA
Championships which sees the eight top-ranked singles players, and the eight
top-ranked doubles players doing battle.

The second-tier of tour competition in women’s tennis is the International
Tour which consists of 32 events joined by the WTA 125k Series.

Like the men’s tour, the lowest level of competition, the ITF Women’s
Circuit, is organized by the ITF, not the WTA.

Davis Cup & Fed Cup

There is some international flavor to the tennis schedule, with international
team events the Davis Cup and Fed Cup held on an annual basis. The Davis Cup
sees the stars of the men’s game battle it out for their countries, while the
women face off in the Fed Cup. The two competitions can be thought of as being a
bit like the World Cup of tennis.

Qualification for the two events differ slightly, but the end result is the
same, with top 16 teams slug it out through four rounds of ties for the right to
feature in the final. Each tie is played in a best-of-five format over two days
in the Fed Cup and three days in the Davis Cup.

In the Fed Cup, on the first day two singles matches (known as ‘rubbers’) are
played, with the reverse singles matches played on the second day. The doubles
rubber rounds out the second day and the tie. In the Davis Cup, the first
singles matches are played on day one, the doubles match takes place on day two,
and the reverse singles takes place on the third and final day.

Olympic Tennis

Tennis first appeared at the Summer Olympics in 1896, but it wasn’t until
1988 that it became a permanent feature at the Games.

There are five events at the Olympics: men’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s
singles, women’s doubles, and mixed doubles. The surface on which the event is
played varies according to which nation is hosting the Games, but has
predominantly been played on hard courts.

Venus Williams tops the medal-winning charts at the Olympics, having claimed
four gold medals and one silver medal. The Olympics form part of the ‘Golden
Slam’, an achievement which entails winning singles gold at the Olympics as well
as all four grand slams in the same year. Steffi Graf is the only player to have
achieved the Golden Slam, sweeping the big events in 1988.

How to Bet on Tennis

Tennis odds are available on just about any tennis match you could imagine,
ranging from the grand slams to the lowest-tier, the Futures Tour, and that’s a
major plus to betting on tennis: if you want to bet on a match you’ll be able to
find a bookmaker who will enable you to do so.

Looking at some tennis betting basics, there are five main types of betting:
outright betting, match betting, handicap betting, over under betting, and
in-play betting.

Outright Betting

In an outright bet, you’ll be picking the winner of a tournament, not just a
single a match. Depending on the tournament, this could require as many as seven
individual match victories.

Match Betting

As the name suggests, match betting relates to a single match – you pick the
winner or the loser. This is the most straightforward method of betting on

Handicap Betting

If you’re familiar with betting on American sports then you probably do a lot
of spread betting, tennis handicap betting is the tennis equivalent.

There are two areas of handicap betting, set handicaps and game handicaps,
both of which are fairly straightforward. One player is given a number of sets
or games as a handicap to level the playing field. You then decide whether
Player A will win with a handicap advantage or whether Player B will make up
their handicap disadvantage and still win. For example, if Roger Federer has a
games handicap of -8 to beat John Isner who has a handicap of +8, and Federer
wins 6-4, 7-6, 6-3 the games score is 19-13 in Federer’s favor. So, while
Federer has won the match, you would lose your bet if you put money on the Swiss
to overcome his handicap.

Set handicaps work in the same fashion, except the handicap is a number of
sets rather than games.

Over Under Betting

As is the case with handicap betting, with over under betting you’re looking
at either the number of games or sets that will be played. This is again a
two-way bet where you put money on the number of games or sets being more or
less than the number offered.

For this example, let’s use sets rather than games. In a WTA Tour contest,
the match will be a best-of-three set affair, so you will be offered odds on
under 2.5 sets or over 2.5 sets. Let’s say Serena Williams is up against
Angelique Kerber, and you’re confident the American is going to win in straight
sets then you would bet on under 2.5. In other words, you think that all three
sets will not be required.

In-Play Betting

In-play betting is emerging as a popular go-to spot for tennis punters.
Tennis moves relatively quickly – a game can be over in a matter of minutes, and
matches can finish in less than an hour – so you need to be on your toes, but
there are plenty of opportunities to bet on individual games and sets.

Other Bets To Look Out For

If you don’t want to wait it out to the end of a tournament, there are many
options to explore. For instance, you can bet on a player to reach a certain
point of the tournament or pick the winner of one half of the draw.

A match bet can be made more intricate by picking the number of sets you
expect the match to last and how many sets each player will win. This is known
as set betting.

Betting on the margin of victory can be an interesting category. A three-set
match provides six different possible outcomes.

Set winner is also a good one to keep an eye on. Backing an underdog to be
quick out of the blocks and win the first set but lose the match can have good

Some bookmakers will offer a ‘double result’ category which allows you to bet
on two different events in the match. For instance, you might bet on Andy Murray
to lose the first set and win the match, coupling two bets together.

Tennis Betting Strategy

When betting on tennis there is one thing to always remember: look for the
value. Over the long-term you’ll come out on top by being patient and
consistently making smart bets where the value is evident rather than backing a
host of long shots in the hope of a big payday.

This principle can make betting on tennis tricky because the value can at
times be hard to spot as it’s a sport in which the favorites get the job done
significantly more often than upsets occur. But value doesn’t mean longer odds
and bigger returns, it means spotting the opportunities where your research
shows that the odds on offer play in your favor.

If you want to apply a strict principle to finding value, a useful formula
is: Value = (Probability * Decimal Odds) – 1. To find the ‘probability’ value
for that formula there is no substitute for good, old research.

As with any sport, there are a number of factors that influence the outcome
of each bet, and a bit of pre-bet research will go a long way.

The Court Surface

There are three surfaces on which tennis is played: hard-court, clay-court,
and grass, and each is a very different prospect. Every player has their
preferred surface, and it tends to go beyond player preference: a champion on
grass might be cannon fodder on clay.

With that in mind, the first thing to look at when considering a bet is how a
player fares on that surface. If history suggests a player is weak on grass then
don’t count on them to buck the trend any time soon, it’s likely that the
surface simply does not suit their style of play.


Much like favored surfaces, players have opponents who they consistently
struggle against. Roger Federer holds the lion’s share of win-related records in
men’s tennis, but the Swiss has a 14-23 head-to-head record against arch-rival
Rafael Nadal.

Take Note of the Form Guide

There is nothing special about tennis on this one; if a player is struggling
today they’re likely to be struggling tomorrow, upturns in fortune are generally
seen over the course of a few tournaments.

Look at the Stats

There is a mass of free, readily available data on tennis players, make sure
you tap into it. From the average speed of a player’s serve to the break points
they’ve saved to the number of trophies in their cabinet, it’s all available and
it should make a difference on who you bet on and why.