Betting on Tennis: Types of Bets

There is no shortage of variety when it comes to different types of tennis bets, which is one of the many appeals of betting on the sport.

For an ATP or WTA Tour event, you can find a wide array of bets on offer.

Another great reason to get comfortable with betting on tennis is because there is no shortage of opportunity. The game is played throughout the year, and there are multiple tiers of men’s and women’s tennis to choose from.

Outright Betting

If you’re looking at a tournament in its entirety and have your eye on making one bet—the overall winner—then outright betting is where the action is for you. Here you’ll pick one player—who you think will come out on top at the end of the tournament—it’s as simple as that.

While the payoffs are generally higher than in match betting (we’ll get to that in a moment), there is more risk involved as in a major, a grand slam a player will need to win seven matches to take home the silverware.

Depending on your overall betting strategy, a potential downside to outright betting on tennis is that that often there are players that are far and away the favorites, and for good reason.

If we look at the below example of the outright betting for the ATP Shanghai Masters, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer were the favorites:

The veterans didn’t disappoint, with Federer beating Nadal in the final. At +250, Federer didn’t offer huge returns, but the short odds were an accurate reflection of the situation.

One aspect of tennis outright betting that makes it more appealing than, say, Major League Baseball or the NBA is that tennis tournaments last, at most, two weeks, so even if you are waiting for the final result, you don’t have to wait long to find out if you’re in the money.

Match Betting

Delving a little deeper, match betting refers to betting on the result of a single match rather than an entire tournament.

Here, you’ll be offered two odds, and you either back Player One or Player Two to win.

Handicap Betting

To add more intricacy to match betting, you can try your hand at handicap betting. Handicap betting in tennis is the same as what is known as spread betting in other sports. The concept is the same; you’re betting on a player to perform as expected or better.

If we look at the below example of opening round matches at the ATP Shanghai Masters, we can see how a two-way games handicap works:

In the first example, there are two options: Either you bet on American youngster Jared Donaldson to win 2.5 games fewer than Argentina’s Pablo Cuevas or you are betting on Cuevas to win 2.5 games more than Donaldson.

Let’s say that we think Donaldson is going to win fairly comfortably, so we would bet on Donaldson at -2.5. For us to win our bet, we need Donaldson to win 2.5 games more than Cuevas. If the final score is 6-4, 6-3 in Donaldson’s favor, then the American won 12 games to the seven of Cuevas. So, when we apply our -2.5 handicap, Donaldson still edges it 9.5 to 7.

It’s crucial to note that the match result is not important here; it is only the number of games that matters. So, if Donaldson won the match 4-6, 7-5, 7-5, we would lose our bet as Donaldson won 18 games and Cuevas won 16.

We needed Donaldson to win by more than 2.5 games, and despite winning the match, we lost our bet with a -2.5 handicap.

In a two-way handicap bet you do not have the option of betting on the tie, but three-way handicaps are also on offer as you can see in the example below:

Handicap betting isn’t restricted to number of games; it can also be applied to the number of sets. With men’s matches at grand slams aside, tennis matches are played in a best-of-three sets format, which means that that handicap set betting is generally at +1.5 and -1.5.

Over/Under Betting

Over/under betting is similar to handicap betting in the sense that you’re betting on the number of games or sets that will be played rather than the match result.

If we look at the below example from the ATP China Open final—a best-of-three sets match—we have two options: under 2.5 or over 2.5.

If we pick the first option, we are saying that one player will win the match in straight sets (2-0). It doesn’t matter if it’s Nadal or Kyrgios who wins, as long as they do so in 2.5 or less sets (as you know, you can’t win 0.5 of a set in tennis…).

The same type of bet can be applied to the number of games in match. Unlike in handicap betting where we were betting on an individual player to win a certain number of games, in this over/under bet, we’re focused on the total number of games:

Correct Score

Do you think you know the winner and the margin of victory? Great—there is a tennis bet to make the most out of your knowledge! There are a number of correct score-type bets in tennis, with the final score in sets and the score in an individual set available on a betting slip near you.

Let’s take a look at the correct score in games in a set. As you can see in the example below, there isn’t anything too complicated about this one – you pick the score you think will be correct and you either win or lose:

The same can be applied to the margin of victory in sets in a match. In a three-set match, there are four possible outcomes, and you can choose either one of the four:

In-Play Betting

One of the great things about betting on tennis is that there are so many bets to be made before and during matches. In-play betting on tennis is very popular at the moment and is only getting more popular.

The reason for this is that you can bet on anything from individual points to the outcome to the game, the set and, of course, the match.

If you’re in any doubt as to the near-endless opportunities on offer, take a look at the example below:

There are two things to take note of this in-play dashboard:

  • This is a match played by two players ranked 67th and 99th in the world in a second-tier event in Argentina
  • Despite the low-key nature of this match, there are 18 in-play markets

Options and opportunities are the name of the game when it comes to betting on tennis.

Additional Bets

We could go on all day about bets worth making on tennis, but here is a quick look at a few others to consider:

  • Winning Section of the Draw – The draw for a tennis tournament is determined on a combination of seeding’s and random picks. While the first and second seeds will always be in different halves of the draw, not much else is certain and this can lead to one half of the draw being a lot stronger than the other. In this event, you might want to bet on which half of the draw the winner will come from rather than picking the exact tournament winner:
  • Winner of Each Quarter – Often, there will be a player who you think will do well in a tournament, but might not have the game to go all the way. One way of backing them to do well is to pick the winner of a quarter of the draw.

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