How to Bet on Tennis
Tennis has come a long way from its regal roots to become one of the most popular individual player sports on the planet. Once the exclusive domain of medieval kings, who played on indoor courses hidden away deep in their palaces, the modern game of tennis was developed in the nineteenth century and quickly gained in popularity in the United States, with the first US Open being played in 1881.
Today, the game of tennis is played by millions on clay and grass courts around the world, and the game’s greatest players are brought together at the four Grand Slam tournaments. The first Grand Slam tournament of the year is played in January, when the eyes of the tennis world turn to Melbourne, home of the Australian Open.
The action moves to Stade Roland-Garros in Paris in late May, when the French Open takes place, before moving across the English Channel to the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in London, where Wimbledon, the world’s oldest and most prestigious tennis tournament, takes place every July. The world’s best players are then back across the Atlantic for the last Monday in August when the US open kicks off in New York.
While Grand Slam tournaments capture the imagination of even the most casual tennis fan, the professional tennis season is long and gruelling, and typically runs from the final days of December until mid-November.
Men’s tennis is governed by the ATP, while the governing body of women’s tennis is known as the WTA. However, despite being operated by different organizations, most tournaments on the annual circuit feature both men’s and women’s competitions, providing you with twice as many betting options to keep your interest in the game alive between Grand Slam events.
Betting on Tennis Tournaments – Game Lines
There is no shortage of betting options available for most professional tennis tournaments, with some of the most popular options including wagering on individual tennis matches. With game line betting, you can bet on the winner of a match, as well as the margin of victory, also known as the spread, and the total number of games.
Rafael Nadal -175
Milos Raonic +145
In the example above, the odds are presented on the winner of the match. Rafael Nadal is listed as a -175 favorite, meaning you must wager $175 to win $100 on a successful bet. Milos Raonic sits as a +145 underdog, which means a successful $100 bet on the Canadian would win you $145.
Rafael Nadal -3.5 (-130)
Milos Raonic +3.5 (+110)
The example above illustrates what a game line bet on the spread might look like. In tennis game line betting, the spread indicates how many more games the winner will win than the loser in a match. A negative number indicates that a player must win that many more games than his opponent for a bet on him to be a winner. Conversely, a positive number is given to the underdog on the day, and indicates how many fewer games he can win in match before a bet on him is declared a loss.
In the above example, Rafael Nadal is favored to win 3.5 more games in his match with Milos Raonic, as indicated by the -3.5 on his betting line. In essence, this means he must win four more games than Raonic for the bet to be a winner. However, you must wager $130 to win $100 on a successful bet.
Milos Raonic is pegged to win 3.5 fewer games, as indicated by the +3.5 on his betting line, which means a bet on him will be a winner only if he stays within three games of Nadal over the course of the match to cover the spread and pay out $110 in winnings on a $100 bet.
Rafael Nadal O 20.5 (-140)
Milos Raonic U 2.5 (+120)
The above example illustrates what a totals bet looks like in tennis game line wagering. The 20.5 indicates the total number of games that will be played during the match, with the O indicating that the match will feature OVER 20.5 games, and the U indicating a wager on UNDER 20.5 games on the day. Once again, odds are attached to each bet, with a $140 bet on the OVER winning $100 while a $100 bet on the UNDER could win you $120.
Betting on Tennis Tournaments – Set Lines
Tennis set lines work in a very similar manner to game lines, except instead of betting on how many games a player will win by, you can bet on how many sets the winner prevails by that day. This also extends to set line totals betting where you bet on the total number of sets played as opposed to games. Set line betting is particularly popular in Grand Slam events, where the men play best three-out-of-five matches as opposed to the best two-out-of-three format used at other events on the ATP Tour.
Betting on Tennis Props
In addition to wagering on the outcome of individual matches, tennis prop betting enables you to wager on the exact outcome of a set or match, as well as provide alternate betting lines in totals betting. With match props, you can bet on the exact score of a match.
2-0 Nadal +285
2-1 Nadal +140
2-0 Raonic +400
2-1 Raonic +290
In the abbreviated match props example illustrated above, a successful $100 bet on Rafael Nadal winning the match by a 2-0 score wins you $285, while a 2-1 victory by the Spanish star wins you $140. If Milos Raonic wins the day’s match in straight sets, a $100 bet wins $400 while a narrow 2-1 victory garners you $290 in winnings.
Set props work in a similar fashion, with betting options covering all possible combinations available on which to wager.
Nadal – 6-1 – S1 +1300
Raonic – 6-3 – S1 +650
Two abbreviated examples of set props are illustrated above. A 6-1 win by Rafael Nadal in the first set will win $1300 on a $100 bet, while a 6-3 victory by Milos Raonic wins $650. Set prop betting also enables you to wager in advance on the outright winner of the first set of a future match, while wagering on subsequent sets is possible through Live Betting, which is explained further at the bottom of this article.
Game props provide you with the chance to wager using alternate betting lines on the total number of games played in a match, as well as the number of games played in the first set, albeit with adjusted odds.
Betting on Tennis Futures
Tennis futures betting, simply put, enables you to wager on the outright winner of an upcoming tournament.
ODDS TO WIN WIMBLEDON – MEN’S
Roger Federer +150
Rafael Nadal +500
Novak Djokovic +650
Alexander Zverev +800
Marin Cilic +1200
Juan Martin Del Potro +1200
The above example illustrates what the top of the tennis futures odds board would look like for betting on an outright winner at a tournament. While this example only lists the favorites, the actual odds board would list all players who are expected to play in the tournament, which could number in the dozens, with their corresponding odds.
In the example above, Roger Federer is listed as a +150 favorite, which means a $100 bet on the Swiss star will win you $150 if he were to go on to claim the tournament title.
Futures odds are made available in advance of the start of a tournament, and are typically updated regularly as the tournament progresses through each round, with updates occurring very often during Grand Slam events.
Live Betting on Tennis
Now that you have done all the necessary homework on the past performances of each player, the type of surface on which the upcoming tournament will be played (for example clay at the French Open or grass at Wimbledon), and how players fared in previous head-to-head matches, and have made all your early wagers on upcoming matches and outright tournament winners, you can also get into the action during the match with Live Betting.
With Live Betting, you can bet in real time on matches in progress, including dynamically changing odds on which player will win a match, and the total number of games played in the match. The Live Betting action moves as quickly as the action on the court, with lines updated after each point, but can pay big dividends for the savvy sports bettor who knows their tennis.