Tennis Betting Guideby Steven Hubbard
Tennis is easily one of the best sports to bet on. It is a high pace game full of action and the best tennis betting sites offer a great range of live bets to enhance it even further.
Most punters bet on the live-action but it is also one of the biggest profit makers for betting sites.
How do you avoid the trap and finally beat the bookie? Below you will find a useful terms guide and the basics to start your tennis betting the right way.
Useful Tennis Betting Terms
ATP- Abbreviation for Association of Tennis Professionals, which governs the ATP World Tour for men.
WTA- Abbreviation for Women’s Tennis Association which governs the WTA Tour for Women.
ITF- Abbreviation for International Tennis Federation, which governs worldwide and partners with the ATP and WTA. Its responsibilities include maintaining and enforcing the rules of tennis, promoting the game, running anti-doping and anti-corruption programs and much more. The ITF also sanction all the Grand Slam events such as Wimbledon, US Open and more.
Love- The term used for a player with no score. 15-love meaning 15-zero.
Ace- A serve that the opposition is unable to return/reach.
Deuce- A score of 40-40 in which a player must win two consecutive points from deuce to win that game.
Advantage- With a score of 40-40 (deuce) the player that wins the first point is said to have an advantage. To win that game the player only needs one more point.
Fault- A serve that fails to land the ball in the opponent’s service box. If the player serves two faults in a row they lose the point. There can also be a foot fault in which a player steps on or over the baseline before striking the ball in a serve.
Let- A serve in which the ball hits the net but still lands in the service court. It is not a fault, meaning the player can repeat a service attempt. If the ball hits the net but lands outside the service box it is a fault with no-repeat attempt given.
The Basics of Tennis
If you have only seen a few matches or none at all, this is a quick guide to help you understand the basics of tennis.
Tennis is a game between two (singles) or four (doubles) players on a rectangular court with a net in the middle. Players stand on opposite sides of a net and use a racket to hit the ball back and forth.
A player serves the ball whilst being behind the baseline between the centre line and the sideline. The ball must go over the net and bounce in the opponent’s service box. Players get two attempts to serve before losing a point. You can also get another attempt through a let service.
Each player has a maximum of one bounce to return the ball to the opponent. The ball has to go over the net and land within the boundaries of the court. When a player fails to return the ball the opponent wins a point.
The scoring starts on zero (Love), first, point 15, second point 30, third point 40 ad, then fourth or game point wins. (0-15-30-40-win)
If there is a score of 40-40 (Deuce) a player will have to win two points in a row to win the game.
Most matches are best of three or five sets. This means the first player to win 2 or 3 sets. To win a set you must win six games.
Usually, the player will win six games and win a set but if the score goes to 5-5, one player must be two games ahead to win the set.
The Different Courts in Tennis
There are three main court types when it comes to tennis, with each court having its characteristics which affect the playing style of the game. You have grass, clay, and hard courts.
Grass- Grass courts are made famous every year in July when Wimbledon comes around. The courts tend to be slippery and the ball can skid and bounce low while retaining most of its speed. There are often bad bounces too. Players with speed and power can use grass to their advantage. It also favours a serve and volley style of play in which the service plays a major part in determining the outcome of the point.
Clay- Clay courts are well known from tournaments like the French Open using bright red clay. The courts are considered slow as the balls bounce high and lose much of their initial speed when hitting the surface. This favours a baseline player who has a strong defensive game and players that can generate spins on their shots like Nadal.
Hard- Hard courts are often made with asphalt or concrete and are used most famously in the US Open and Australian Open. The ball travels faster than clay courts but slower than grass. The bounce is high and often predictable as the surface is flat and easy to maintain. It suits most styles of play and is seen as a fair in between for players.
Tennis Betting Markets
Match Winner- Unlike football, there can only be a winner or loser in tennis. With the draw market not available the odds for match-winner can be quite short. Especially as there are not as many shocks in tennis as say football.
However, if you are betting in-play you can find some tasty odds. As we said there are not often shocks, but maybe slight scares in the match where an underdog may take the first set. This can create some good odds for a favourite to come back and win especially in the major tournaments.
Match Handicap- Handicaps seem very complex but are very simple. It is a way of leveling the playing field while creating better odds. You can bet on a favourite (negative) to overcome a handicap or bet on an underdog (positive) to have an advantage before the game.
In tennis, you can bet on a set or game handicap. Essentially you must look at the number of sets or games won and apply the handicap you have chosen at the end of the game.
Say you picked a -1.5 set handicap you would need the player to win say 2-0 insets for your bet to win. If they won 2-1 you would lose this bet.
If you bet on a -5 game handicap, and the game finished 6-2, 6-2. The total games would be 12-4 in your favour. You then minus the 5 to make it 7-4 meaning your handicap is a winner.
If you want to start using handicaps more, check out our Asian Handicap Betting Guide.
Match Totals- Similar to the handicap, you are betting on the total number of sets or games in a match. This time it’s a simple over or under bet though. If you bet on under 2.5 sets in a match you will need the game to finish 2-0 to win your bet. This can be good for a favourite that you think will easily beat their opponent.
Or if there are two closely matched opponents an overs bet can be a great value.
Set Betting- In the umbrella of set betting, you will find totals, correct score, games, and many other different markets. Here the odds do not present much value for pre-game bets. However, if you bet in-play you can find some great value.
Tennis is a fast game with odds changing quickly. Be on the lookout for favourites falling behind early on for a great boost to their odds.
Fast Markets- The very best betting sites now offer fast markets for you to place your bets. Most of the time this is on points in a game, so next point winner, next game-winner, etc. In these markets, you can find great odds, but you can also lose money fast so be careful!
What to Avoid When Betting on Tennis
Underestimating the importance of surface- Now you know the three different court types and their characteristics, you must remember to never underestimate the effect they have. Refer back to the differences and research if your player is suited to the court they are playing on. If you pick a big name that isn’t great on a certain surface, you could be in for a shock.
Betting emotionally- Most punters will favour or dislike certain players but you must step away from your emotions. Always bet with your head, not your heart. Also, do not bet just to make money, it is of course for the fun and enhancing the tennis experience. When the fun stops, stop.
Placing bets of pre-game favourites- Now this is only something to avoid just because of the sheer lack of value in tennis favourites. Most will have odds of 1.30 or lower which is an unnecessary risk for very little reward. Instead, look at in-play markets or handicaps for much better odds.
Placing too many bets- Tennis can have hundreds of games on a day with plenty of different markets to choose from. The schedule is demanding and players cannot always keep consistent.
We recommend betting on the bigger tournaments like the Grand Slams and sticking to players you can research and know of. Unless you follow tennis religiously you will see a host of players and tournaments you will not recognise. The odds might be tempting, but avoid the trap and stick with what you know!
Sticking to one bookmaker- When there is a major tennis tournament, bookies will battle it out for customers offering crazy offers and promotions to lure you in. Take advantage of this and pick the best offers. Yes, you may have loyalty to a certain site but for new customers, the offers can be incredible!
Avoid betting on the underdog- Now this isn’t for every underdog of course, but those with huge odds. We are talking about the big underdogs you think might just do it for a great pay off. When in reality the odds are like that for a reason, the chances of it happening are very low. Even more so in bigger tournaments like the Grand Slams. Just avoid wasting your money and stick to other markets with better odds for the strong favourites.
What to do When Betting on Tennis
Research and more research- It is almost criminal to ignore the vast amount of information out there at your disposal. Their previous form, head to head stats, court preferences, playing styles and so much more. Stats play a very important part of tennis, if not the most important. But of course, it is an individual sport and the psychology of the player can also play a big part.
Watch the game- All the stats in the world will never beat you watching the game live in person or via a stream. You can tell a lot about the feel of the game, who’s looking better or if there is an upset on the cards. Use this as your primary decision-making tool along with all your stats and knowledge of the players.
Bet on players you know- We do not mean literally, but betting on players you have heard of. There are so many matches and players to choose from but don’t just pick them because you like their name, or they are favourites. Bet on players you know and have researched.
Use promotions to your advantage- Especially around the time of a major tennis tournament. You are going to find plenty of different offers to enhance your betting odds.