Introduction To Tennis Betting

Tennis, with its unique scoring system is a very difficult betting prospect, so in this introduction to Tennis betting, my intention is to teach readers some of the basic tools and resources which are needed to succeed.

As a tennis match is one with only two outcomes (either one player wins or the other does!), one player will always start the match at odds-on, for example at a price like 1/2 (also known as 1.50) (your win $1 for every $2 staked), with the other player odds-against, for example, 2/1 (also known as 3.00) (you win $2 for every $1 staked).

When selecting a player to bet on, you will need to do at least some research, or alternatively find people who will do the research for you. As the tennis players amongst us will be aware, every court type has its own characteristics. Some players prefer clay courts –for example Fabio Fognini or Pablo Andujar, whilst others are better on hard courts – such as Marcos Baghdatis. Players who are strong across all surfaces have a big advantage – David Ferrer has become a strong all-courter, having significantly improved his game away from his favoured clay surface. However, the betting market is generally aware of these court tendencies and finding players who are under-rated on given surfaces is a much better avenue.

Having said that, there are some player characteristics which are less obvious to other bettors, and crucially, the bookmakers.

Some players, for example those with a high ball toss when serving, such as Tomas Berdych, play much better indoor than outdoor where the wind isn’t a factor. Some players – Berdych again is an example of this, as is Roger Federer – struggle with playing left-handed opponents. Some cope better with playing big servers than others do. This in itself can be of benefit to big servers with limited return games – such as John Isner or Ivo Karlovic – who by holding serve can put pressure on higher-ranked opponents, enabling them to keep matches close and sometimes causing shocks.

Some knowledge of player tendencies is essential, whether it’s via watching matches as a fan or through statistics. The ATP website ( is particularly good for supplying statistics, and it will show a player’s career record against various opponent genres.

Once you know which players thrive in different scenarios, and who are improving and declining, you are in a much better place to establish who you would like to bet on. One way of being able to identify players who are improving is to build up detailed knowledge of lower-level Tennis, such as the Challenger Tour. Something I have spent a lot of time doing is calculating ratios for Challenger players when they play on the ATP Tour – so seeing how service hold and opponent break percentages in Challengers decline when the players make the step up to the ATP Tour. This is the best way for making comparisons between ATP and Challenger players and this is covered in the TennisRatings Daily Spreadsheets.

So far I’ve covered the match winner market, but there are also a variety of side markets that can be bet on. Some examples are could be the following – Betting on players to win a set (+1.5 sets bet) or to win a match in straight sets (-1.5 sets or -2.5 sets in Grand Slams) in the set handicap markets. Also, you can bet on players on the game handicap market, either +x games for an underdog, or –x games as a favourite, if you believe that the match will either be close or dominated by one player.

The TennisRatings Pre-Match Betting spreadsheets are very useful in this respect, as it shows how players perform in various scenarios, such as being able to cover the set handicap or game handicap as an underdog or favourite, or how often a player’s matches go over or under the game totals for the game handicap.

It’s vital when gambling on any sport to take the best prices on offer about your favoured bet. Websites such as facilitate this by showing which bookmakers have the best prices for each match. It’s basically the same as a car insurance comparison site. You wouldn’t pay more for your car insurance when a cheaper quote is offered so why would you take 3/1 on a tennis player when 5/1 is available somewhere else?

Furthermore, when you open up a bookmaker account, almost all offer a free bet bonus with your first deposit. So having a variety of accounts is advantageous for getting bonuses, as well as the best prices available. These bonuses can be generous and could generate a starting betting bankroll.

I hope that you enjoyed an insight into the tennis betting world, and the variety of scenarios that bettors have to consider to make successful decisions. If you have any feedback or questions I’d be very pleased to hear from you.


Providing free tennis trading advice through statistical analysis, as well as daily match previews, and free betting, trading and general tennis articles, has built up a strong following in the Tennis gambling world. You can follow TennisRatings on Twitter @tennisratings, and via facebook at Alternatively, you can contact TennisRatings via email at

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