Popularity around tennis, and access to not only viewing it but also playing it, is growing by the day. It’s a sport that runs eleven months of the year, in every time zone, and often has one or two tournaments EVERY week. Whether tennis caught your eye as you watched Coco Gauff win at the US Open, or have been wanting to learn more about the sport in general, here’s a deep dive into all things women’s tennis – including betting!
As it currently stands, there are two major “tours” in tennis. The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) Tour is the men’s tour, while the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Tour is the women’s tour. There are also lower tours, but ultimately the top players in tennis usually stick to these tours. They are called “tours” because the players travel to the different tournaments all over the world week by week. These tournaments are bracket-style win or go home knockout competitions. At the beginning of each tournament, they will do a draw to determine the bracket for each event.
Tennis players are ranked using a points system. When you watch tennis on TV you will usually hear them discussing rankings. Each tournament throughout the year (January-November) is worth a certain amount of points, and you also earn points for how far you progress in the tournament. Every year, you must defend the points you won the previous year, or you lose them and fall in the rankings. If you progress farther and win more in one year compared to the last, you receive more points and rise in ranking.
There are also different surfaces on tennis courts around the world. Usually they will clump all the tournaments of the same surface into the same time frame so players have “seasons” on each surface throughout the year. The surfaces are hard court, clay, and grass. The game as a whole changes from surface to surface, so certain players adapt better to different surfaces.
Players will sometimes play more than one event at each tournament. Other than Singles, there is also Doubles (two men or two women) and Mixed Doubles (one man and one women). Often, these teams will compete together tournament to tournament.
Some tournaments hold more weight, points wise, than others. ATP/WTA 1000 events award 1000 points to the winner, ATP/WTA 500 events are 500 points, and so on. The most anticipated events of the tennis year are the Grand Slams (also known as the Majors) – awarding 2000 points to the winner.
The four Grand Slams are the Australian Open, French Open (aka Roland Garros), Wimbledon, and the US Open. These are the most prestigious and highly sought after tournaments to win in tennis. They are longer, have more rounds, and the men play best of five matches instead of best of three matches.
The Australian Open and US Open are played on hard court, the French Open on clay, and Wimbledon on grass.
Game, Set, Match
There are a lot of intricate rules to tennis that can only be learned by watching or playing, but for the sake of learning (and betting), here are the basic rules.
Tennis matches are either best of three sets or best of five sets. The “match” refers to the entire best of three/five competition. So, a player must win two or three sets to win a match. A “set” is determined by the first player to win at least six “games.” You must win by at least two games, so if both players win six games in a set, then the set goes to tie break to determine who takes the set. A “game” is determined by the first player to win four points, but again, you must win by at least two points. The points start at Love (zero), and go 15, 30, 40 – if both players get to 40 in a game, then it’s a “Duece” and the player must win another two points to win the game.
Players alternate who serves every game, and the order is determined by a coin toss before the match begins. Often players have a better chance of winning the game when they serve, because they have more control over the shots being made. When a player wins a game they served, it’s referred to as “holding their serve.” If a player wins a game that the other player was serving, it’s called “breaking serve.”
Betting in Tennis
There are multiple ways to bet in tennis. For example, even right now, you can bet on Futures for next year’s Grand Slam events. Here are a few current bets to place for the upcoming Australian Open in January:
Winner, Australian Open 2024 (Women’s):
Iga Swiatek: +350
Aryna Sabalenka: +450
Elena Rybakina: +700
Coco Gauff: +800
Jessica Pegula: +1200
Since there are three different surfaces on which Grand Slams are played, and every player reacts differently to each surface, the odds change when the surface changes. For example, here are the odds for Wimbledon 2024 (played on grass):
Winner, Wimbledon 2024 (Women):
Iga Swiatek: +330
Aryna Sabalenka: +400
Elena Rybakina: +600
Coco Gauff: +900
Ons Jabeur: +1200
You can also bet live when tournaments are going on. Everything from who will win each match, to live odds on who will win the next point, game, or set. You can also bet on individual serves, and whether or not a player will hold or break serve. Usually, there is more money in betting against the serve, since it’s less likely and the market reacts more. As you watch a match and bet live, you can guess when a player will break serve and try to bet on those live odds. Since there are tournaments constantly from January until November, there is rarely a time when tennis is not on.
As the same players play throughout the year, you can start to learn the strengths and weaknesses of each. This way you will know who will be more likely to win each match based on their opponent, and which players thrive on which surfaces.
So that’s your basic lesson on Tennis Betting 101! The best in tennis will be heading to the ATP/WTA finals at the end of October, and the new season will start in January as players ramp up for the Australian Open. It’s the perfect time to get all caught up as we head into an exciting year!