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  • A Tennis Betting Guide For New Tennis Fans

    As one of the most popular sports in the world, tennis draws a decent number of bettors worldwide. There are close to 2,000 pro tennis players ranked on the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) tour and over 1,000 more on the Women’s Tennis Association tour. For bettors, this translates to an abundance of matches to wager on year-round.  

    If you’re a new fan of the sport and want to add some fun to your viewing, keep reading for everything you need to know about tennis betting for WTA and ATP.   

    What makes betting on tennis unique? 

    The tennis season runs from January to November, so you’ll almost always have tennis odds available to bet on. This can be particularly enticing for seasoned bettors when their preferred sport is in its offseason. 

    While the object of the game seems simple enough, the scoring system doesn’t reflect it. This can result in a game ending after just four serves while allowing matches to run for over 11 hours. These unique scoring dynamics open up attractive betting markets, amplifying the viewing experience.     

    Tennis scoring 

    Men’s matches are usually scheduled for five sets, with the first to win three sets taking the match. It takes four points to win a game (unless there’s a deuce, in which case, a player needs two straight points to take it). The first player to win 6 games in a set wins unless the set reaches a 5-5 tie, in which case, the first to win 7 games takes the set.  

    However, if the set is still tied at 6-6, it goes to a tiebreaker. The tiebreaker finally adapts more standard scoring, with each won point scored as one. The first to win seven points takes the tiebreaker, but players must win by two. This means it can be over with a low score of 7-0 or run up to a grueling 20-18 tiebreaker.  

    The same goes for women’s matches, except that it’s only a race to two sets, with a third set deciding a tie. It’s far from being the most logical scoring system, but it undoubtedly makes for some exciting matches.   

    Main betting considerations 

    When you’re finally able to make sense of tennis scoring, you need to grasp the fundamental elements of tennis odds and tennis betting. The three primary considerations include the following: 

    • Court surface 

    Professional tennis uses three main court surfaces: clay, grass and hard court. On the softer clay surface, the ball doesn’t travel as fast. This results in longer rallies, and players who rely on power don’t have as much of an advantage. On the other end of the spectrum, grass surfaces are notoriously fast-paced. This could lead to a player with a vicious serve dominating tournaments played on grass. As a bettor, you must go beyond player rankings when deciding on bets, as even the best players have their preferred surfaces.   

    • Player form 

    This decidedly English term refers to how well someone is playing. So, if a player comes into a tournament in top form, they are likely betting favourites until proven otherwise. Conversely, a player struggling to find their form possibly hasn’t had a good run lately.  

    A player can be unseeded coming into a tournament but might carry a string of solid performances with them. Similarly, a popular player who’s struggling might not be the best bet coming into a match, even against an unseeded foe. Take these into consideration when analysing betting lines.  

    • Tennis betting markets 

    This is where it gets interesting. As with other sports, different bookmakers usually carry a variety of markets. In tennis, bookmakers typically have over a dozen betting options for major tournaments. Add to this the unending carousel of tennis matches year-round, and bettors enjoy virtually infinite betting options.   

    Types of bets 

    The top sports betting sites allow you to bet on all ATP Tour events throughout the year. This includes Grand Slam tournaments, the ATP Tour Masters 100, ATP 500 and 200 series and the ATP Finals. Meanwhile, there are over 50 events available to bet on for WTA events.   

    Match/main bets 

    • Moneyline (head-to-head): This is the easiest line to bet on for beginners, as you’re just putting your money on who’ll win the match. The winnings are based on how likely a player is going to win. For example, if someone is -450, that player is heavily favoured to win the match. It would take a USD$450 bet to win $100. Conversely, if you bet on someone who’s a +325 underdog, your USD$100 bet wins $325.  
    • Correct score: This is another simple wager for beginners. Here, you just bet what you think the final score will be. For example, in a hypothetical match between Spanish titans Carlos Alcaraz and Rafael Nadal, if you bet 3-1 and the younger Spaniard wins three sets to one, you win.  
    • Over/under (total games): Over/under lines are prevalent in sports betting because it makes any sport exponentially more fun to watch. In tennis, this line refers to how many games are played in a match. For example, in a 3-set match, bookmakers might set the line at 22.5. If the match ends 6-4, 7-5 – it only took 22 games. In this type of betting, you put your money whether you think the total games played will be over or under the set line.  
    • Handicap: Once you get a good feel for tennis betting, you can progress to handicap bets. In this type of bet, the underdog gets a head start in the betting lines. For example, if an underdog is +3.5 and you bet on the favourite, the latter needs to win the set by at least 4 games for you to win your bet. In other sports, this is commonly referred to as the point spread.  
    • Double result (1st set/match): This is another fun bet for beginners. Here, you bet on a player to win the first set and the match. If your pick wins the first set and the match goes five sets, the viewing experience becomes even more thrilling.   

    Set bets 

    • X set winner: Mix things up by picking the winner of specific sets if the betting types above are getting too easy for you. This betting market can be especially entertaining in a back-and-forth match. Instead of picking an outright winner, you can bet on who wins each set.  
    • X set total games (over/under): Here, a line is set on the number of games played in a set. For example, a set that ends 6-4 played 10 games. If a line is set at 8.5 and you bet over, you win. Conversely, you lose the bet if a player wins comfortably, 6-1.  
    • 1st set correct score: There’s usually a feeling-out process between players during the first set of a match. This is what makes this betting type interesting. Here, you can wager what you think the first set’s final score will be. This is a type of bet that adds value to a betting slip.  
    • Exact sets: In this type of bet, you wager on how many sets you think it’ll take to win a match. While it’s a simple proposition, it’s another way of enhancing your betting slip.  

    These are the primary betting markets for tennis. There are more options available from different bookmakers. Part of a bettor’s skill is identifying markets that make sense, offering the most value for wagers.   

    Betting tips 

    Sports betting is such an interesting field. People can spend decades trying to master it yet no one truly ever does. This is what makes the exercise so absorbing for punters all over the world. However, some practices can put you in the best position to make the proper read.   

    Follow the sport religiously 

    Tennis enthusiasts will always have an advantage over casual bettors. If you think tennis betting is something you’ll enjoy over the long haul, follow the sport religiously. As with any sport, you begin to understand its intricacies when you’re following it close enough. For example, you can understand how certain matchups will likely play out, particularly on specific court surfaces. 

    You’ll also learn how to gauge players’ forms, the speed of the ball in particular tournaments, and other X factors that play into a match. All these will certainly give you an understanding of who’s likely to win. It can also tell you when an underdog’s betting line is favourable.   

    Spot counterintuitive favourites 

    The tennis season is a long grind. As such, even top players will experience ups and downs during the course of a season. Top-ranking players can come into a tournament with a higher seed even though they haven’t been playing well recently. They can also have a higher seed even when a particular court surface isn’t their best. It’s in these instances where you can find a counterintuitive favourite.  

    Casual bettors will usually back players with higher numbers next to their names without taking into account the factors mentioned above. Additionally, player matchups can be intriguing. It’s not uncommon for high-ranking players to consistently have trouble when playing certain lower-ranked opponents. As such, check head-to-head matchups on specific court surfaces when scanning for bets.   

    Practice bankrolling 

    The concept of bankrolling refers to setting a budget for how much you can afford to lose in betting. However, bankrolling isn’t just about allocating for potential losses. For example, if you set your tennis bankroll at USD$500, you wouldn’t want to spend all that on just one or two bets. Betting experts suggest using 1-3% of your total bankroll for individual bets. In this example, that would mean placing USD$5 to $15 wagers, depending on the available odds.   

    Keep a record of your bets 

    As you become more serious about sports betting, keeping a record of your activities would be best. This will help you visualise your betting results, allowing you to analyse and adjust your strategy accordingly. There are free tennis betting spreadsheets available online. These make it easy to bankroll and calculate profit and return of investment.  

    Your betting spreadsheet could include the following information: 

    • Date of bet 
    • Match bet on 
    • Betting market 
    • Bet made 
    • Odds received for bet 
    • Results  
    • Insights 

    You have an abundance of options for betting spreadsheets. Take time to look at their features to see which suits your needs and betting style.   

    Choosing a betting website 

    Sports betting has become increasingly accepted by the mainstream, with several major sports leagues establishing partnerships with betting websites and apps. This has resulted in better products for bettors and a wealth of options. When choosing a betting website, consider the following: 

    • Security: With money involved and sensitive information on the line, you want a betting website that’s trustworthy and reliable. Take time to research your prospective bookmakers. User reviews give you a good idea of their pros and cons.  
    • Betting markets: This may not be a huge factor for a beginner bettor, but a betting website with a wide range of betting options is a good sign of its reputability. Of course, this will also be convenient once your betting skills mature.  
    • User interface: You want a sports betting website that’s easy to use, navigate and understand. Ideally, find a service with a mobile app. This makes it easier to track your bets and matches.  
    • Easy deposits and payments: In line with the above, choose a betting site that makes it easy to make deposits and cash out winnings. The top bookmakers usually provide multiple options for payment processing. Make sure whatever you use is compatible with theirs.  

    Experts advise signing up with multiple bookmakers. This allows you to get the best odds available and promotional deals. Betting sites also have bonus offers for new signups.   

    Read the offer terms and conditions 

    Speaking of bonus offers, these can often be misleading. For example, it’s common to see a promo where the first USD$100 worth of bets is free. However, to get these and similar offers, bettors usually need to make a minimum number of wagers at specific odds. Read the fine print before jumping on these enticing promos.  

    Final words 

    Sports betting isn’t always about making money. Placing wagers on games and matches enable you to add entertainment value to the sports product. When you become enthused with sports betting, you’ll enjoy matches without any emotional investment in the teams and players. You no longer have to wait for your favourites to play, as you can enjoy any game that’s on.  

    However, you also need to be wary of betting’s addictive tendencies. People can be vulnerable to craving the excitement of winning bets. This can lead to gambling problems and obsessive behaviour. As long as you understand what you’re in it for and you’re in a balanced headspace, you should be able to enjoy it for the fun pastime that it is.