How to Bet on Tennis

Tennis betting can seem daunting if you’re not familiar with the sport but there are loads of opportunities to improve your knowledge of tennis while betting on matches!

The tennis calendars on both the men’s and women’s tours run throughout the year — bar December when the players take a break — and this means you’re never short of being able to watch and bet on a match.

This guide will take you through the basics of tennis betting and how the rules of the sport work. You will gain an understanding of how the game is played and what are the best tennis betting markets available for players of all experiences.

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Tennis rules guide - the basics

Tennis is one of the most popular sports in the world and is followed by millions each year. The sport consists of either two players competing against each other either side of a net, with a racket to hit the ball into the other players’ half of the court. In doubles tennis, a team of two players will face another team of two.

The aim is to score points by hitting the ball to win games, sets and eventually the match. When a player hits the ball, it must land into the opposition court in order for the shot to be valid. Points can be scored by forcing your opponent into a mistake, such as them hitting the net or missing the court, or hitting the ball past your opponent, so it bounces more than once.

How tennis scoring works

Tennis scoring looks complicated at first but it becomes easy once you know how tennis scoring works. Players battle to win a game. The first to six games wins a set. The first to two or three sets wins the match (depending on the length of the match).

The scoring system is 15, 30, 40, game. If you’re serving at the start of a game and win a point, you go 15-0 up. If your opponent wins the next point, it’s 15-15. And so on until someone reaches game (scores four points). However, a player must win by two clear points. So if the score moves to 40-40 then the game will go to deuce, where a player must earn an advantage point before then earning the game-winning point. If the player has the ‘advantage’ but loses the next point, it’s back to deuce again.

The first player to six games wins the set. But like points in a game, a set must be won by two clear games. So if the score is 5-5 then a player can win the set 7-5. However, in order to avoid sets lasting for ever, if the set reaches 6-6 then a tie-break will occur, whereby it’s the first player to seven points who wins the set. Again, the player must win by two clear points, so the tie-break is feasibly limitless.

Most tennis matches are played over three sets, with the first to win two sets the winner of the match. However, Grand Slam events and some other bigger tournaments demand the men play five-set matches.

It is also worth noting that some Grand Slams implement a rule whereby the fifth set in a match cannot be won on a tie-break. That has led to some matches stretching over 10 hours, with the final set running to 70-68 in the case of John Isner vs Nicolas Mahut in 2010.

How does tennis betting work

Unibet offers tennis betting in many different forms. You can bet on everything from the men’s ATP tour to the women’s WTA tour, as well as all the prestigious Grand Slam tournaments and much more.

If tennis betting is completely new to you, it’s useful to check the world rankings first. Players get a certain amount of ranking points when they play and win in different tournaments – the bigger the tournament, the more points on offer. After you’ve familiarised yourself with the players, you can start focusing on other things, such as the surface that the games are played on. There are usually three different types of courts: clay courts, hard courts and grass courts. Some players might be stronger on some surfaces than others, which is worth keeping in mind when betting on tennis.

The different types of tennis betting

Outright betting is one of the most popular and exciting forms of tennis betting. In it, you bet on the player who is going to win a specific tournament, such as Wimbledon or the US Open. As a long-form bet you can put your money on one of the players and follow them closely throughout the tournament – this gives you someone to root for, if you don’t have a favourite already.

Match betting in tennis is very simple – you bet on which of the two players wins the match. Unlike football or hockey, in tennis a match can’t end in a draw, so you only have to figure out which of the players will win the game.

Within a tennis match you can also bet on the games and sets. A tennis match consists of three to five sets, each of which have at least six games. One of the ways you can bet on sets and games is over/under. In over/under you bet on the number of, for example, games in a specific set. Say you put your money on “Over 9.5” games in set three, you win if there are 10 or more games in that set. It’s also possible to bet on the correct score of both games and sets, as well as whether deuces or tie-breaks happen.

Another popular form is tennis handicap betting. Handicaps can be played in both sets and games. In handicap betting, one of the players is given a hypothetical advantage or disadvantage that shows as plus or minus points given to them. You can bet on for example -1.5 game handicap for Stefanos Tsitsipas in a set against Kei Nishikori. You win if Tsitsipas wins the set with at least two games.

Player specials is another fun way to back players over the season or even in specific tournaments. For example, you may with to back clay expert Dominic Thiem to win at least one Grand Slam in a season. That gives you some leeway if he struggles in the first two Slams of the year.

Backing a player to reach a certain point in a Slam is also a fun bet. If, for example, you think Simona Halep will breeze through the opening rounds of the French Open, but doubt she will get into the semi-finals because should could face Naomi Osaka in the quarters, then you could back Halep to exit before or at the quarter-final stage.

Bet on tennis live

Tennis is also the perfect sport for live betting. This is because there are regular breaks between games and even between points. It means the in-play betting markets are always on the move, because the narrative of a tennis match can swing wildly during the contest.

Many tennis betting fans like to bet live in order to play the odds to their advantage. This is specifically strong in men’s tennis, where holding your serve is crucial to winning matches. Because men’s tennis can be so dependent on who is serving, a break of serve — when the player receiving the serve wins a particular game — can cause big odds swings.

Women’s tennis is less dependent on the serve, and so is arguably a more competitive sport as a whole. Betting on pre-match odds in women’s tennis can be said to be less reliable than men’s. But the odds swings therefore in women’s matches — where breaks of serve are more common — mean it’s perfect for live tennis betting.

Some fans enjoy betting on the outcome of games or even points midway through a game. It takes plenty of skill and a good bit of luck to judge when a player is about to break serve and trigger a big odds change.

Tennis live streaming and betting

Here at Unibet you can live stream tennis and bet in play on thousands of matches each year. We cover the biggest tournaments on the planet on both the ATP and WTA Tours. Live streaming tennis means you can make a more reasoned judgement when deciding to bet on a match. You can follow the temperament of the players, the form they are in and even work out if they are suitable to the style of player their opponent is forcing upon them. 

Tennis is a global sport, meaning our live streams and in-play betting markets can sometimes be running through the night if tournaments are being played in the United States, South America, Australasia or Asia!

Bet on tennis