The first versions of tennis are documented in the 12th century in Northern France. At the time, rackets were not yet in use and the game was actually called “Jeu de paume” (“game of the palm”) because the ball was hit with the palm of the hand.
Originally, the game was played outdoors, but King Louis X was not keen on playing outdoors and constructed the first indoor courts. In time, the game became popular became popular at the Royal Courts in France and England. Henry VIII was known to be a fan of the game. Since the 16th century, the game has been played with a racket.
Whilst the game declined in the 18th and early 19th century, it emerged once more as modern tennis in the second half of the 19th century. Thanks to some great marketing, new rules and much more modern equipment, the game became hugely popular and in 1877 the first Wimbledon tournament took place.
Nowadays, tennis is among the most popular sports to play and to bet on.
We’ll assume that you know the very basics of tennis as a sport, i.e. it’s a game played with a ball, rackets, across a net, involving two or four players, depending on whether you play single or double. That’s about as basic as it gets when it comes to the game itself. But in order to understand betting on tennis and to eventually get into it as well, you will need to know a few more things.
Game – During a game, the same player serves. The game is won by the first player who scored four points in total and two more points than their opponent.
Set – The set consists of several games. The player who serves alternates between games. Usually the winner is the one who won at least six games and two more than the opponent. However, if one players won 6 games and the other 5, a final game is played. If this game ends with both players at 6 points, a so-called tie-break is played, which means the winner only needs 1 win ahead of their opponent, ending in a 7-6 score for the set. In tennis, it is not possible to end a game, set or match in a tie.
Match – A match consists of several sets, where the winner is determined through a best-of-three (women) or best-of-five (men) system. Once again, the winner is the one who wins with a lead of two games. Interestingly, in some tournaments, tie-breakers are not an option in a match, meaning the winner always has to win by two sets. Due to this rule, there have been a few very long matches in the past. In such cases, though, the number of games keeps on going until one of the players has won by two games in the final set. A very recent example is the match of Kevin Anderson against John Isner during the Wimbledon 2018 Semi-finals, where the game lasted 6 hours and 36 minutes.
Grand Slam – The Grand Slam tournaments consists of the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open, which are played starting in January and ending in September.
As is generally the case with sportsbetting, in tennis the odds also represent the likelihood of a certain outcome. Odds are displayed as Fractional (UK, Ireland), Decimal (Europe, Southern Hemisphere) or Moneyline (North America). We will stick with Decimal in our examples here.
If a player is listed with odds of 1.75, you get an idea of the chances a bookmaker believes that player to have at winning a match. If you want to know what that means in implied probability (the percentage), simply calculate as follows: 1 / 1.75 = 0.5714 = 57.14%
In other words, the bookmaker calculates a percentage of 57.14% of that player winning.
To figure out how much you would win, if you were to place a €10 bet on that player with these odds, you need to calculate according to this formula: (stake * odds) – stake
So: (€10 * 1.75) - €10 = (€17.50) - €10 = €7.50
That’s easy enough and you can follow this formula at all times. Of course, the lower the odds, the more likely a bookmaker considers the player to win and the smaller would be your win. Higher odds imply bigger wins, but also a decreased likelihood of the player to win. Thankfully, odds are only implying the probability of a certain outcome, but anything is possible. And we’ll tell you what you need to consider when placing bets on tennis further below.
There’s a multitude of available markets to bet on, though the two principal markets are “Tournaments” and “Match”. Those can be then sorted into different types of bets you can make.
Outright winner – bet on the winner of a particular tournament
Depending on the size of the tournament, more markets may be available, such as: To Reach the Final, Player Progress, Quarter Winners
Match Odds – These are the odds of a match.
Set Betting – You can bet on the correct score of a set.
Total Games – Bet on the total of games played during a match. This is actually similar to over/under betting in football (soccer), because the bookmaker sets the number of games they believe will be played and punters decide whether they believe the number to be over or under that.
Set Handicap – Handicaps determine which of the players is considered to have an advantage or disadvantage. In this case a player gets an advantage of sets.
Game Handicap – Similar to above, but the advantage is applied to the games.
Number of Sets – It’s possible to bet on the number of sets played.
To win a set – As set betting is pretty popular, punters can also bet on who win which set.
There are other types of tennis betting, but these are among the most common.
Interestingly, there’s a wrong way to go about tennis betting and a right way. There are a few things you should always consider when betting on tennis. This is actually made easy by available records on all players. And since we’re only talking about two or four players in a match, you don’t have a to consider overall team form, for instance.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when betting on tennis:
There are a few great sportsbooks and bookmakers out there and we’ve reviewed most of them extensively, especially those we trust in particular. Since tennis is among the most popular sports to bet on and you can find markets almost all year long, most good bookmakers will offer you a variety of odds.
There’s no reason to stick with just one bookmaker, though, because odds tend to differ. Sometimes the difference might be very small, but when you bet bigger sums, you may want to consider odds that are more in your favour.
Finally, also consider whether special offers are available. Especially when the big tours and tournaments kick off, many of the better bookmakers will offer promotions or bonuses that you may wish to use.