How to Bet on Tennis: Complete Beginners Guide

Learn about the ways to bet on tennis. Get the specific details on how to be successful with tennis betting as well as the game fundamentals.

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Tennis is a worldwide phenomenon, both from an entertainment and a betting perspective. There are four major grand slam events every year. Here, fans enjoy tennis action at the highest level from exciting matchups. Of course, wagering on tennis is a big deal as well.

Most tennis betting opportunities are gotten from weekly events that run every year between January and November. These don’t get as much spotlight as the Grand Slam events. And while this may seem like a bad thing, it is not. Savvy bettors who follow these tournaments enjoy some of the most favorable odds.

If the exciting world of tennis betting attracts you, this guide will help you get started.

tennis sports betting guide

What are the rules of Tennis?

As with anything, mastering the fundamentals of tennis betting is key. You need to know how the game of tennis works if you plan to make money off it.

Scoring

Tennis’ scoring system is different. Every game with the players on ‘love,’ i.e., zero points. Once the scoring begins;

The first point equals 15,
The second one takes them to 30,
The third point takes them to 40,
And a fourth point could win the game.


A player must win by at least two points to win the game. If the scores are 40-0, 40-15, or 40-30, the leading player needs to score one more point to win the game.

What is the deuce?

Often, the score is tied at 40-40. This is called deuce. When the game is in this position, the first player to win two consecutive points wins. The first point moves them to ‘advantage.’ But if the opponent scores before they win the second point, then the advantage is canceled. This returns the score to deuce.

Serving

The serve is where play begins. It can be used as a weapon to win points. Some key rules regarding serving include;

The right (deuce) side of the court is always served from first. Players then alternate which side they serve from.

The serving player aims to hit the ball diagonally into the service box.

A server is called for a fault when their serve goes into the net or outside the court. Two consecutive faults will cause them to lose the point.

General Play

Once the game is underway, the following rules of tennis apply;

  • Players must hit the ball before it bounces twice.
  • Players cannot hit the ball twice.
  • The ball must stay within the court’s boundaries to remain in play.
  • A ball hitting the line or any part of the line is still considered to be in play.
  • A player who touches the net with their body or racket loses the point.
  • The point can end if the ball is hit into the net.
  • The officials (line umpire and chair umpire) enforce the rules throughout a tennis match.

How does a player win a set/match?

A player/team wins a set by being the first side to win six games with a margin of at least two games. If the set is tied at six games each, a tie-break will be used to decide a set.

Sets are what win a match. A player wins the match if they win most of the prescribed number of sets (most commonly best two out of three, but sometimes best three out of five).

What are the tennis odds and betting options?

There are several ways to bet on tennis matches. The most popular include;

Moneyline: Match Betting

Monelines are winner/loser bets. You choose the player you think will win the match and wager on them. oddsmaker analyzes the players and assigns odds based on the implied probability of winning.

The favorite has negative odds, while the underdog has positive odds. These odds also tell you how much you need to wager to win a certain amount of money.

Take a tennis match between Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz.

PlayerOdds
Novak Djokovic-165
Carlos Alcaraz+150

Noval Djokovic is the favorite. Placing a $165 wager on him will result in profits of $100. On the other hand, Carlos Alcaraz is the underdog. Thus, he offers higher potential wagers. If you bet $100 on him, you stand to make $150 if he wins.

Spreads: Game or Set Betting

The spread levels the playing field between the underdog and the favorite. But unlike in other sports, spreads in tennis are not based on points. Instead, they are based on sets or games.

A game spread for our Djokovic-Alcaraz match may look like this;

PlayerSpread
Novak DjokovicCarlos Alcaraz
-4.5+4.5

This means that Djokovic needs to win five more games than Alcaraz to cover the spread. If you bet on Alcaraz, they must either win the match or lose by four or fewer games to cover the spread.
Set spreads are typically set at 1.5. Thus, our game will have the following set spread;

Novak DjokovicCarlos Alcaraz
-1.5+1.5

If you bet on Djokovic and he needs to win straight sets to cover the spread. If Alcaraz wins a set, you lose your bet. Alternatively, you could win a bet on Alcaraz +1.5 sets even if he loses the match, he just needs to win at least one.

Over/Under Betting in Tennis

Over/under in tennis bets are also quite different. Rather than basing them on points scored, oddsmakers base them on the number of games in a match. This varies depending on whether the match is a best-of-three or best-of-five. For instance, in a 3-set match;

Over 22.5Under 22.5
+120-105

If you wager on over, you’ll need the match to span at least 23 games to win your bet. So, if Djokovic wins straight sets of 7-6, 6-4, the match would have lasted 23 games; you win your wager. But if the match ends at 6-3, 7-6, which is 22 games, you lose your bet.

Tennis Betting Futures

You can make predictions on upcoming tournaments through futures. Here, you wager on who will win the tournament. The odds on futures are usually attractive and could result in massive winnings.
The table below shows possible future odds for the Australian Open.

PlayerOdds
Novak Djokovic+150
Rafael Nadal+300
Alexander Zverev+1200
Dominic Thiem+1300
Andrey Rublev+1500

Live Betting in Tennis

Tennis matches are long, intense, and can change in a flash. Thus, the sport has one of the most active live betting markets in sports. You can wager on players winning games and sets, making comebacks, the set score, and so on. Odds change pretty fast, so you need to keep track of every swing.

Tennis Prop Bets

Prop bets are pretty interesting. You can bet on any number of things, including the exact score of the sets, who will win the first game or set, who will have the most aces, and more.

Big tennis tournaments and matchups typically have the most exotic prop bets.

Tennis Betting Strategies and Tips

To make the best tennis bets, you need to;

Pay attention to the court’s surface

The playing surface is the most important factor when betting on tennis. There are three court surfaces in tennis: grass, hard, and clay surfaces. Each plays differently and has a unique effect on how the ball bounces. For instance, grass courts play quickly. The ball bounces low, which keeps rallies shorter than on other surfaces

Generally, few players are at their best on all three surfaces. Some play best on clay, others on grass, and others on a hard surface. Your job as a handicapper is to analyze how the different surfaces benefit/hinder various playstyles. For example, the grass surface favors net players and those who like to serve and volley.

Know styles of play

Rankings matter. But it helps to look past the big names and analyze each player’s style of play. For instance, players with powerful serves have an advantage over those with subpar return games. However, they will be vulnerable against a great returner.

If you want to become a great handicapper, you should learn the playing style of different players. This helps you better analyze their strengths and weaknesses.

Put fitness first

Tennis is a grueling affair. Matches can last for many hours. And for the entire time, a player’s speed, stamina, reaction, and concentration will be tested. Thus, the fittest players come out on top more often than not.

A player’s physical conditioning affects how they and their opponents approach the match. For instance, players with excellent stamina are known to stretch matches to the very end while performing consistently. On the other hand, their opponents often start matches strongly in an effort to prevent a drawn-out affair.

Indoors and Outdoors

Hardcourt events are often played indoors in Europe. In North America, they are mainly outdoors. Clay and grass courts are always outdoors.

Overall, some players do better indoors than outdoors. This is because outdoor events expose the game to the elements, like wind, sunlight, rain, and heat, which affect player performance. Others do better outdoors than they do indoors.

Take Rafael Nadal, for example. He is one of the best tennis players ever. However, he has struggled considerably in indoor matches, winning only one title while playing indoors compared to 66 while outdoors.

What are the big events for tennis betting?

The Grand Slams

The Grand Slams are the four most important tennis events in a calendar year. These are the four major championships, where the greatest champions treat us to some of the greatest matches. Each tournament lasts two weeks. And for handicappers, the Grand Slams have the best betting action of any tennis event.

Australian Open

This is the first event of the year. It is usually played in mid-January on a hard court.

French Open

The French Open comes second from around May to early June. Also known as Roland Garros and is played on clay.

Wimbledon

This is the oldest tennis tournament, founded all the way back in 1877. It is played on a grass court in the June-July period.

US Open

The US Open is the last event in the Gland Slam calendar. It takes place in August-September on a hard court.

ATP Tour Tennis

The ATP Tour is the elite male professional circuit. The Grand Slam tournaments are part of this, alongside 60 other tennis tournaments in 31 countries. It provides plenty of betting action throughout the year.

WTA Tour

The WTA is the highest level of women’s tennis. Mirroring the ATP, it encompasses the biggest events of the year for the ladies, including all four Grand Slams.

Davis Cup

The Davis Cup is known as the ‘The World Cup of Tennis.’ It is the premier international event for men’s tennis. It takes place annually in a knock-out format, making for an exciting betting experience in the latter stages.

The Fed Cup

The Fed Cup is the women’s world cup of Tennis. Also known as the Billie Jean King Cup, the tournament takes place every year with equally exciting betting opportunities.

Olympic Tennis

Olympic tennis takes place every four years as part of the Olympic games for both men & women.

Tennis Betting Sites

What are the best tennis betting sites?

There are many online sportsbooks for tennis betting. Some of our favorites include;

FanDuel

FanDuel offers up-to-date Tennis odds for all tennis matches and major tournaments. The sportsbook also gifts new players with risk-free bets of up to $1000.

Get started with our FanDuel promo code.

BetMGM

BetMGM is another sportsbook with all the best odds for tennis matches and tournaments. New users qualify for risk-free bets of up to $1000 on sign-up.

Start your tennis betting journey with our BetMGM promo code.

Betrivers

Betting on tennis with Betrivers is quite easy. You get some pretty favorite odds, lots of guides with useful tips, and bonuses of up to $250 on sign-up.

Start your betrivers journey with our Betrivers promo code.

Draftkings

Draftkings also has lots to offer in terms of tennis betting odds. You can make all kinds of bets, from moneylines, spreads, and futures, to live bets and some pretty exotic tennis props. New users also qualify for exciting offers and bonuses.

Get started today with our Draftkings promo code.

Tennis Betting FAQs

Can I bet on tennis?

Yes. Online sports betting is now legal in much of the United States. And if you’re using a legal sportsbook like Draftkings, Betrivers, BetMGM, or FanDuel, you can bet on all the tennis games you want.

What does the spread mean in tennis?

Unlike in other sports, the spread in tennis isn’t about points or goals. Rather, it’s a wager on the difference in games/sets won between the winner and loser of a tennis matchup.

How do over/unders work in tennis?

Over/under bets in tennis are wagers on the total number of games in a match. For instance, the line may be set at 22.5 games in a best-of-three match.

How do you bet on tennis spreads?

here are two types of tennis spreads; game spreads and set spreads. In-game spreads, you wager on the difference in games won, while in set spreads, you bet on the difference in sets won.