Tennis is one of the most exciting sports betting events, especially with in-play betting. Since tournaments are played throughout the year around the world, it is the ideal sport for betting.
Despite the large number of matches going on at any one time, many bettors to stick to the major tournaments, the four ATP events: the US Open, the French Open, Wimbledon and the Australian Open.
The early rounds of a large tournament often see the world's best playing much lower-ranked opposition. This can mean that players like Serena Williams or Rafa Nadal will have odds of as low as 1.05 (1/20) before the match starts.
Tennis betting lends itself to careful research. Is a player good on hard courts, but less predictable on grass? Is an old injury still causing problems? Has the underdog got a big serve? Is a player going to struggle in the climate the tournament is played in?
One of the reasons that tennis is so exciting - and such fertile ground - for sports bettors is that at any point in the game either player can win. This may seem an obvious point, but compare tennis to football or rugby. If one team is 4-0 up half-way through the second half in football, or is winning 40-8 with 20 minutes to go in rugby, there is no real prospect of the losing team winning.
But in tennis it is quite common for a player to go two sets down (in a 5-set game) and yet still win. It ain't over till it's over: the match isn't won until somebody wins.
Tennis Betting Rules
One thing to be aware of is that bookmakers' rules about when a bet on tennis is void vary. For instance, if a player is injured and has to retire, is your bet on that player void, or do you just lose the bet? It depends on how far the match has got. Some bookmakers say the bet is good (not void) as soon as the first ball has been played. Others say a set must have been completed. Others have a yet different rule. It is important to know what rules each bookmaker has before you bet - see our guide to ‘Different Bookies, Different Rules’.
OUR TOP TIP
While the early rounds of the main tournaments tend to go as expected, with the top seeds winning easily, it is not uncommon to see an upset. One of the seeded players will usually manage to lose a set in the first couple of rounds, or even a match and be knocked out. This is what makes tennis so exciting, and provides opportunities for the bettor.
Odds can fluctuate wildly in tennis. If the favourite starts slowly, loses a game, and especially if they lose the first set, the odds on their winning will increase significantly. This can also be true if they lose a game, or sometimes even just a key point. The underdog's odds will drop at the same time.
This is the point to enter the market: when the favourite's odds go down, you can get a bet of excellent value either backing the favourite of laying the underdog. When order is restored, and the favourite wins, you can make a good profit.
You can also make several bets throughout one match. For instance, in the French Open in 2012, there was one match where Maria Sharapova's serve was broken nine times, with her odds spiking up each time. That provided nine separate opportunities to enter the market, until Sharapova eventually won the match.