How to Bet on Tennis

This content is informational only.

Betting on tennis is an extremely popular pastime, and most online sportsbooks now offer hundreds of lines for every competition. With matches taking place year-round, tennis odds are always widely available, and savvy bettors are able to regularly find value at a variety of levels. 

There are a number of ways in which to assess a tennis match, and we take a closer look at how to produce profitable picks on a regular basis. 

Grand Slam Tournaments

There are four Grand Slam events on the ATP and WTA calendar, and these are scheduled throughout the season. The Australian Open takes place in mid-January and is competed on the hard courts in Melbourne. The French Open is the second Grand Slam of the season and takes place at the end of May. It is the only one of the four majors to be held on clay courts. 

This is closely followed by Wimbledon with the grass-court action taking center stage in London. Finally, the US Open gets underway at the end of September and takes place at Flushing Meadows in New York. 

These events attract extremely high-quality fields, and sportsbooks always offer additional lines on the four Grand Slams. The men play five-set matches at each of these tournaments, and that enables the opportunity for more twists and turns. This is ideal for in-play betting enthusiasts. 

Grand Slam tournaments always attract a high-quality field, and five-set matches can negatively impact those players who are forced to endure a quick turnaround at these events. 

ATP / WTA Events 

Outside of the four Grand Slam events, players on the ATP and WTA tours play competitive tennis on a regular basis. Events take place around the world on a variety of different surfaces, and each player will win points based on their performances in these competitions. 

Online sportsbooks provide tennis odds for each of these tournaments, and they are extremely popular with bettors. Events are classified according to their quality with ATP 1000 events such as Indian Wells and the Monte-Carlo Masters always extremely popular with parlay and props bettors. 

These events will get additional coverage from the sportsbooks and tend to attract a high percentage of top-10 competitors. 

Tennis Wager Types

Similar to many other competitive sports, the most popular way of playing is by backing a specific player on the moneyline market. The majority of parlay bets will also contain moneyline selections; however, some of these tennis odds can be incredibly restrictive, and other wagering types are available for those who don’t fancy backing the likes of Roger Federer at -700. 

Moneyline:

This is simply a case of backing a player to win the match. Your chosen player must complete the contest and go through to the next round of the competition. 

Game Spread:

With many matches appearing to be one-sided contests, the point spread will help even the playing field. These tennis odds will give the underdog a fighting chance, while it will also offer the favorite a handicap to overcome. This is the ideal market when a top 10 player is drawn against a wildcard competitor. 

For example, your picks include a wager on the underdog at +5.5 on the game spread. Your chosen player must stay within five games of his/her opponent to cash in. 

If they are defeated 6-4, 6-4, this would be classed as a winning wager as the loser has managed to amass eight games. If you add the +5.5 to this amount, it produces 13.5 (which is higher than 12). 

Another example: Your picks include a wager on a well-fancied favorite. They are -3.5 games on the spread. If they win 6-4, 6-2, this would be a winning selection. They are victorious by six games, and this more than adequate to cover for the -3.5 spread. 

Set Spread:

The set spread is often more popular at Grand Slam events, particularly in five-set contests. Once again, the underdog is given a chance on the spread market (usually +1.5 sets), while the favorite is given a handicap to overcome (usually -1.5 sets). 

If you’re backing a player to win -2.5 sets on the set spread, they must win 3-0 for this to pay out. 

Over/Under:

This type of bet is ideal for parlay backers and allows tennis bettors to make a prediction without having to pick a winner. 

Bettors will be able to wager on the total number of games played in a match. Ideal contests for this market are matches in which the two players are either extremely closely matched or both in good form. 

The majority of ATP and WTA tour matches will have the over/under market set at between 19.5 and 22.5, with this total rising for five-set contests at Grand Slams. 

The online sportsbook will set their tennis odds according to the head-to-head record between these players and the recent form of each competitor. 

For example, if you back a match to finish with over 21.5 games, it must contain at least 22 games. Winning results would include 7-6, 7-6, and 7-5, 6-4. Losing results include 6-4, 6-4, and 6-2, 7-6. 

Futures:

These lines are always very popular ahead of Grand Slam events, and most reputable online sportsbooks will have plenty of pre-tournament betting lines available each year. 

These are likely to include “Player A to Win their Quarter” or “Player B to Reach the Semi-Finals.” 

These betting lines are sometimes available for other WTA and ATP tournaments, although the majority of bettors will tend to stick to the four major events on the tennis calendar. 

Props:

There are a number of lines available for each match, and these afford the opportunity for tennis bettors to be a little more specific with their picks. Examples include Tiebreak in the Match, Total Games Won by Player A, and Second Set Correct Score. 

Live In-Play Tennis Betting 

One of the most popular ways of wagering is by utilizing the live tennis odds. Most online sportsbooks will now provide live in-play tennis markets, which tend to be available throughout the majority of the match. The live betting section of the website tends to be clearly signposted at the top of the home page. 

Every single point could help potentially change the direction of the match, and the fluctuating live tennis odds will reflect this. Just one break of serve can significantly change the prices of each player, and this can be extremely lucrative for those who are able to anticipate these sudden match swings. Live tennis odds can change incredibly quickly in fast-paced contests. 

You can still wager on the over/under market and various other lines once the match has begun, although bets tend to take a couple of additional seconds to process due to the ever-changing nature of a live sporting event. 

Many savvy tennis bettors wait until a favorite is in a losing position before getting involved. This usually produces more favorable lines than the pre-match markets. 

Most online sportsbooks will also offer some sort of cash-out service that will allow you to take a portion of your winnings even if your parlay selections have yet to conclude. You can check on the progress of your matches by using the live in-play section of the website at any point. 

Live in-play wagering on tennis is an extremely exciting way to follow all of the action, although, with the constantly changing lines, it may take some getting used to. It’s strongly advised to practice by watching a tennis match using the live in-play section of the site prior to making any picks. 

Tennis Betting Tips

Tennis betting odds can be extremely volatile, especially matches which have already got underway. Therefore, it’s vitally important to adhere to a number of rules. 

Specialize:

It’s important to focus on a specific area when it comes to wagering on tennis. On busy days, there can be 100-plus matches taking place, and this can make it incredibly tough to follow. If you’re able to narrow it down to a specific level, region or individual player, this will make it much easier to make your picks. 

Likewise, focus on specific markets. If your expertise lies in the over/under markets, then make sure you aren’t tempted to deviate and start browsing other lines. 

Don’t Wager for the Sake of It:

There will be some days (particularly November/December) where there are fewer matches taking place. This can often make it difficult to find value picks. If this is the case, it is advised to simply wait until something more tempting comes along. 

You don’t have to bet every single day, and you don’t have to wager simply because there are tennis matches taking place. 

Look for Players Coming Back from Injury:

Sometimes, a player can make their return following an injury layoff, and this can often result in the tennis betting odds being skewed towards the opposition player. Players will not come straight back into competitive action without practice, although it can be hard to get back up to speed immediately. 

When the likes of Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori returned from a break, they were still clear favorites in the tennis betting odds. However, they weren’t match-fit and therefore struggled to remain competitive. 

Local Players Tend to Prevail at the Lower-Ranked Events:

In ITF events, local players will be invited to compete, and they tend to fare well at these types of events. Although the seeded players have far more quality overall, the weather conditions, the partisan crowd, and their local knowledge can come in extremely handy. It is important to ensure that you don’t overlook these types of players in your picks. 

Understanding Player Approaches:

Finally, it’s important to understand how each player approaches a match. Some competitors prefer to stick to the baseline and rely on their opponents to make unforced errors. Others will prefer to go for the jugular and attack their rival from the first serve. 

If you use the stats to establish the type of match which may unfold, then this will help improve your picks long-term. 

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