Sports Information: Tennis



Tennis is a racquet sport played by two opposing individuals (singles) or two opposing teams of two (doubles). The game was a fusion of racquets and the Basque ball game pelota, and was developed in the 1860s in Birmingham, England.

The world's first tennis club was founded at Leamington Spa in 1872. Tennis is now one of the major global sports, with over 75 million participants worldwide and many more following the Grand Slams, Davis Cup and Fed Cup events.




Tennis is overseen by the International Tennis Federation (ITF), and the professional tours are governed and managed, for men, by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), and, for women, by the WTA (Women's Tennis Association). The ITF is the world governing body for tennis and acts as the guardian of the Rules of Tennis. However, both the ATP and WTA have some flexibility in the way they run their respective tours.




Worldwide professional tennis is played year round with a break in December. There are four Grand Slam tournaments each year - Australia (January), Paris (May), Wimbledon (June) and New York (August). Men and women compete for separate titles at these events. In the [delete current] world rankings, mens' tennis has been dominated by Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal who stand (as at November 2014) at first, second and third respectively. The UK's Andy Murray has been ranked as high as second in the past but after a moderate 2014 now stands at eighth (as at November 2014). In the women's game, Serena Williams has shown [delete some] consistency over the years and is currently ranked first, although playing fewer tournaments than her immediate challengers. In her professional career to date, Serena has amassed 18 Grand Slam singles titles and 15 Grand Slam doubles titles. 


Masters tournaments are the next most important competition category, followed by ranking tournaments which routinely take place worldwide every week. Tennis is mainly a game for individuals and, although there is some inter-nation competition through the Davis Cup (for men) and the Federation Cup (for women), the profile of these tournaments is in decline compared to Grand Slam events. The scoring system and rules of tennis have not significantly changed since the 1900s although the duration of matches does vary. In Grand Slam matches and in some Masters finals, men play the best of five sets. In all other tournaments [delete comma] and for all women's games, three sets are the rule. Tennis leads the way in the use of technology to eliminate wrong decisions. Cyclops is a computer system used on the ATP and WTA tours, which acts as an electronic line judge to help determine whether a shot is in or out of play.




Tennis betting turnover is the third highest worldwide behind football and horseracing [delete comma] and second based on in-play betting. To illustrate this, in-play turnover on major football matches can reach £10m, compared to £20m on the Grand Slam finals where the matches are often close and fortunes can fluctuate.




Prices in ante-post tournament markets are higher than for single matches because, to win the bet, your selection has to win several matches.




Bookmakers and betting exchanges offer ante-post prices before the start of tournaments and world ranking matches.




  • Lisa played tennis regularly and liked to watch women's tournaments

  • She watched the early rounds of the Women's Australian Open and thought that Victoria

  • Azarenka was playing the best tennis 
    Azarenka was a good price at 6/1 as she had not won a major tournament before

  • Lisa therefore had £10 to win on at odds of 6/1.

  • Azarenka won and she collected £70 (including her stake money) for her £10 bet


In tournaments, in addition to winning bets there are ante-post markets offering odds on players reaching the semi-finals.




  • Compare prices offered by bookmakers & exchanges and select the best odds

  • Think about hedging if your bet seems to be doing well


Example of How to Hedge your Bet


  • In the earlier example, Azarenka reached the semi-finals and her winning odds reduced to 3/1

  • Lisa watched the match and Azarenka won the first set

  • Her odds to win the final had reduced again to 6/4. [someone needs to check if the outright market remains open while a relevant match takes place]

  • Lisa staked £24 with the betting exchange on Azarenka not winning

  • This meant that if Azarenka failed to win the tournament, Lisa would have staked £34 to win £38

  • If Azarenka won, Lisa would collect £70 (including stake) from her earlier bet

  • She could therefore not lose, having the option to sit tight or bet again on the final




Match Outcomes

There are only two outcomes in tennis betting as a draw is not possible. Bookmakers and exchanges will offer prices on individual matches, quoting odds on each player to win.


Set Betting
This is where you predict the match score based on set totals. Examples are set out below.

Player A to win 3-0 
Player A to win 3-1 
Player A to win 3-2
Player B to win 3-0 
Player B to win 3-1
Player B to win 3-2


To Win the First Set
This is a simple dual-choice bet on either Player A or Player B to win the first set.


Tie-Break Played
Simply predict whether or not there will be a tie-break played in any specific match.


Number of sets
In Grand Slam five-set matches, bet on how many sets will actually be played ie [delete either] 3, 4 or 5. 
For regular three-set matches, bet on how many sets will actually be played ie [delete either] 2 or 3.


Stage of Elimination
Bet on which round a certain player will be knocked out of the tournament.


Coupon or Multiple Bets
This is an accumulative bet on a number of players to win their respective matches. The more selections you make, the greater the odds. This is an attractive way to increase winnings as individual match odds tend to be low. Remember you can do combinations as well as accumulators.


Betting Example

  • In the first round of the Australian Open, Sam placed a £10 accumulator on the top four seeds to win their matches at odds of 1/20, 1/20, 1/5 and 1/5.

  • All four won easily and he collected £15.87

  • He decided to include 3 other bets where the odds were closer to even money.

  • He placed a 7x6 accumulator bet and one 7-fold accumulator bet ie 8 bets with a £5 stake

  • Two of his bets won and one lost giving him one 6 accumulator

  • This returned £32

  • If the last match bet had won he would have collected £60 for his 7-fold accumulator and £210 for his 7 winning 6-fold accumulators




Tennis betting in-play is extremely popular, particularly on the outcome of individual matches and sets. In this situation, bettors can be in and out of the market many times as odds can fluctuate considerably point by point. Other in-play markets include:


Correct Set Score
Predict what you think the score will be at the end of any particular set.


Set Winner
Bet on who you think will win a specific set.


Betting Example


  • Djokovic was 1/2 in the pre-match market to beat Andy Murray

  • Murray led 2 sets to 1 and Djokovic's odds drifted to 6/4

  • John thought that was a great price for a player who never knew when he was beaten and was on a run of 17 consecutive match wins

  • He bet £10 to win on the betting exchange

  • Djokovic battled back to win by 3 sets to 2 and John collected £25 including his stake




Compare prices offered by bookmakers & exchanges and select the best odds.
In tennis, it's difficult to regain match fitness after injury so check for players returning one month or more after injury, and oppose them.

Consider hedging your bet using the in-play market.


In-play Betting Example


  • In the example above Djokovic came from 2-1 sets down to lead 5-2 in the fifth set

  • At this point, the odds on an Andy Murray win had drifted to 12/1

  • John had a £1 bet on Andy Murray to win

  • He would, therefore, show a profit on the match whatever the outcome

  • In-play betting creates the opportunity to engineer a win/win situation, such as the one above.




Spread betting firms offer bets based on a range of points between buy and sell in a number of markets, such as:

  • Number of titles won over a season

  • Number of sets won in a tournament

  • Number of Aces served in a tournament




  • Check spread markets between firms to get the best price on your bet

  • Consider taking a stop loss in case things don't work out

  • Alternatively, develop an escape strategy using other markets