A Beginner's Guide To Betting On Tennis

Tennis betting is a growing market worldwide, with sportsbooks increasingly offering more odds and betting options — including live betting.  With the U.S. Open coming up and plenty of big names playing, here’s everything you need to know about how to bet on tennis so you can turn a profit.

Tennis betting tips

With plenty of tennis info and stats readily available, you can make some cash on the courts with the right handicapping strategy and the following tennis betting tips.

Tennis Court Know the playing surface

The playing surface is the No. 1 handicapping factor in tennis. Few players are at their best on all types of surfaces. For example, Wimbledon has a grass surface that favors serve-and-volley players with big serves. 

On the other hand, Roland-Garros is a clay surface, which gives an advantage to baseline players while slowing down big serves. Knowing how clay and grass playing surfaces impact odds is an important starting point.

Search for spot bets Search for spot bets

The mental aspect of the game is a crucial component to betting on tennis, and situational edges can be massive. Be alert for letdowns following a major upset or extremely satisfying victory. Keep in mind that some of the higher-ranked players won't be quite as motivated as their lower-ranked opponents when competing in smaller tournaments.

Scheduling is also essential, and players who come through qualifying will be more warmed up than opponents who gained automatic entry and have yet to play. Then again, fatigue (both physical and mental) can take its toll as well. 

Tennis Racket Individual styles lead to matchup edges

Don’t place too much emphasis on rankings and recent form. Tennis is a one-on-one sport which means playing styles are more critical to matchups.

Every player has different strengths and weaknesses, and head-to-head history can reveal some interesting trends. While recent wins and losses are still a factor to consider, tennis bettors also need to be aware of the game styles of each player.

Covers Global Two Color Bandage Fitness first

Tennis is a grueling sport with constant movement and few stoppages in play, which means that players need to be at their best in terms of fitness. Be aware of which factors can make fitness more critical, such as weather (hotter weather is more draining), length of the match (Grand Slam tournaments being best-of-five sets instead of best-of-three), as well as injuries and time off between tournaments for individual players. 

Knowing which players are in peak physical conditioning can also help when handicapping tennis live betting because their opponent might start matches strong while the more fit player takes over down the stretch.

Tennis bet types explained

While there are many ways to bet on tennis matches, the most popular wagering options are the moneyline, the spread, and the Over/Under.

Moneyline 

The most popular way to bet on tennis is by betting on the moneyline, simply choosing the outright winner of a match. The favorite will have a negative sign (-) in front of their number, and in the following example, you would need to bet $185 on Djokovic to win $100 if he won the match.  

The underdog will have a positive sign (+) in front of their odds, which means placing a $100 wager on Federer would result in a profit of $165 if he pulled off the upset. If both players have the same number, they have even odds of winning, and the match is considered a “pick ’em.”

Player Odds
Novak Djokovic -185
Roger Federer +165

Tennis spread

Like the point spread in basketball or football, oddsmakers will set handicaps on both sets and games to level the playing field. 

In the following example of a game spread, Novak Djokovic is set at -4.5, which means that he needs to win five more games than Medvedev in the match to cover the spread. If Medvedev wins the match or loses by four or fewer games, he would cover the spread. 

Set spreads in tennis are placed at -1.5, much like the run line in baseball. In the following example, if you bet on Djokovic at -1.5 sets and he wins in straight sets, you win the bet. If Medvedev wins a set, you will lose.

Player Game spread odds
Novak Djokovic -4.5
Daniil Medvedev +4.5

Player Set spread odds
Novak Djokovic -1.5
Daniil Medvedev +1.5

Over/Under

When betting the Over/Under in other sports, you bet on the total number of points scored. However, the Over/Under in tennis is based on the number of games a match will feature.

Keep in mind that tennis matches will be either a best-of-three or best-of-five sets. A player must win six games by a margin of two games to win a set, and if the set is tied at 6-6, a seventh tie-breaking game is played. 

In the following example, if the two players combine to play 39 or more games, taking the Over would payout at $100 for every $125 wagered. If the players combine to play 38 games or fewer, those betting the Under will earn $105 profit on a $100 bet. 

You can also bet on the total or Over/Under of sets which will always be set at 2.5.

Total games Odds
Over 38.5 -125
Under 38.5 +105

Futures 

Futures odds are one of the most popular ways to bet on tennis and involve simply betting on which player will outright win a particular tournament, such as the odds to win the U.S. Open. Every player is assigned a price according to their chances of winning. 

In the following example of futures odds, Ashleigh Barty and Naomi Osaka are the two favorites to win the U.S. Open at +350 and +450. If you bet $100 on Barty to win and she takes home the gold, you would profit $350. 

Odds to win US Open women's singles

Player Odds to win
Ashleigh Barty +350
Naomi Osaka +450
Aryna Sabalenka +1,000
Bianca Andreescu +1,200
Iga Swiatek +1,200
Simona Halep +1,200
Karolina Pliskova +1,400

Props

One way to make tennis betting even more interesting is by looking at the market for proposition bets. These include betting on who will win the first game, the exact score, the Over/Under on the number of aces, and more.

Keep in mind that not all books offer these more exotic prop bets, and they may only offer them for bigger tournaments or matchups.

Live betting

With point changes coming fast and furious in tennis, live betting offers some intriguing opportunities for savvy bettors. In-play betting allows you to wager on the match-winner, set winner, and the winner of a game in any set. 

Ensure your feed is up to the second, and keep in mind these tips on how to bet tennis live, so you can profit from momentum swings and John McEnroe-esque meltdowns.  

Tennis betting forum

Want to learn more about betting on tennis and meet a large, knowledgeable community? Check out Covers’ tennis betting forum to get picks, ask questions, and learn from experienced sports bettors.

Instant Replay: How to bet on tennis

  • Knowing how players perform on specific surfaces and the differences between clay and grass is key to handicapping matches.
  • Following tennis and understanding the styles and tendencies of players is crucial to recognize when a betting line is off.
  • Take advantage of swings in momentum and the mental aspect of tennis with live-betting.
  • Check out all the betting options available at your sportsbook to see where the best betting value lies in a particular matchup or tournament.

How to bet on tennis FAQs

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