Betting On Tennis Guide

Why bet on tennis?

Tennis has a number of potential advantages on other sports betting.

1. There are only two outcomes in match betting. Unlike football betting, there is no draw in tennis matches. In a singles match, one player will win, the other will lose. This makes it much easier — will the player you back win?

2. There is less luck in tennis than most other sports. Partly because of the scoring system, luck doesn’t feature so much in a tennis match. A player can hit some fluke shots, yes, but by the end of the match the best player on the day has won. This makes the outcomes of tennis matches easier to predict.

3. There are fewer variables in tennis matches. Really, there are only two people who can make a difference in the outcome of a tennis match. Compare that to a football match, with 22 players, possible substitutes, the decisions of the manager and referee. Compare it to racing, where you have a rider and an animal,plus the role of the trainer. If you know a bit about the two players involved in a tennis match (recent form, match record, head-to-head record etc) you stand a good chance of predicting the outcome. What’s more, only about the top 100 or so players compete regularly on the ATP tour. It’s much easier to get to know these individuals than it is to make a judgement on the competitors in most other sports.

Betting On Tennis Matches

1. Research. To be serious about betting on tennis you have to know a bit about it! Have the two players met before? What is their head-to-head like? This matters in tennis. Some player’s games just don’t match up well against others. The most well known example of this is the Nadal match-up for Federer. Nadal’s heavy top-spin forehand has been difficult for Federer’s one-handed backhand to deal with.

In addition, check out:

A. Recent matches. Is one player on a better run of form than the other?

B. Tournament/surface history. Does one of the players have a better record in that tournament or on that surface? An obvious example would be backing a successful grass court player at Wimbledon over a clay court specialist.

2. Is it that easy? No, for 2 reasons.

Firstly, tennis isn’t entirely ‘predictable’ based solely on tennis stats. If it was, no-one would watch it. Be very careful about putting faith in sites that purport to have a ‘mathematical formula’ for predicting match results. Life isn’t like that.

Secondly, the bookmakers (usually) know all the information themselves when they calculate their odds. Bookmakers will want to attract you with generous odds, but still ensure they make a profit. So, for example, if you are sure that Djokovic is going to win a match against a lower ranked player, the bookies will probably agree and reflect that in very low odds. It might not always be worth your while putting money on.

3. Finding the value.

So, the key to making money on tennis matches is to find the value bets. These are bets where you think the odds offered by the bookies are higher than they ‘should’ be in your calculation. These are the matches to put money on. Some of them may be long odds where you are betting on the outsider; but if you think the odds are good, put the money on. You will win some and lose some. But the ideas is to win more, over the long term.

Here are the 5 rules for finding value:

Rule 1: Register with a number of bookies and compare odds. You may be surprised about how much the odds offered can vary. This is particularly the case early on, when the odds are first offered. Getting the best price in the market is key to long term success. There are lots of bookies out there competing for your business!

Rule 2: Look for an upset. Understandably, bookmakers factor in a player’s ranking when making their offers. But there could be a number of reasons why the lower ranked player in a match is worth backing.

Rule 3: Pay attention to up and comers. Up and coming players present a problem for the bookmakers. They are expected to make a breakthrough. But when? They may be worth backing against an older, higher ranked player. Conversely, sometimes these players are over-hyped in the market or inconsistent and it is worth backing a more consistent, experienced player.

Rule 4: Spot the end of a trend. A player has had a bad run of form, losing a lot of first round matches. The odds reflect that. But that run of form will turn around eventually — spot the moment. Another possible is a player with a poor head-to-head record against their opponent. But if they’ve been getting closer, could they claim a victory?

Rule 5: Be up to date. Getting early news about, for example, a player’s injury situation, can be vital.

Finding the value is where comes in. We will give you the advice you need and tell you which bookmakers are offering the best value.

Betting Odds

Confusingly, the odds offered by bookies can come in three different formats, because different countries have used different systems in the past. This site uses decimal odds when referring to betting opportunities, because we believe they are the easiest to compare and calculate. Most betting sites will offer an option on the page to convert the odds to the system you prefer and save your preferences. It is vital that you understand what the odds mean before placing a bet.

Here is a summary of the three different systems so that you can easily convert betting odds to a value you understand:


Other Betting Options

As well as betting on the match result and overall tournament result, bookies offer odds on other aspects of tennis. These can be divided into match betting and tournament betting. Here are some of the more common options:

Match betting

‘Player to win 1st/2nd set’. Rather than who will win the whole match, you can bet on who will win each set. This can be attractive if you get better odds than for the match winner. But a note of caution: one of the things that makes the top players more successful is their ability to close out tight matches. A good example is Novak Djokovic’s incredible 2015 season. He won 93% of his matches in all competitions. However, he only won 84% of sets played. In other words, even the very best players drop a set here and there.

Similarly, you can bet on the result. In a slam this can range from 3-0 to 3-2. The same warning applies, though. The odds get higher for a reason.

Games to be played. Here, you are betting on whether a match will be a one-sided or a close affair. Some players tend to play more games in a match. This might be because they can lose concentration during a match. Or they are naturally ‘grinders’ who wear their opponents down by the end. Maybe they are strong servers but weak returners who play a lot of tie breaks. If you want to get involved in this form of predicting it’s always a good idea to check the players’ head-to-head stats to see what kind of matches they’ve played before. Take a close look at the odds, but also the number of games set by the bookies which you have to be under or over. These can vary from one bookie to the next but are crucial in determining whether there is any value to be had.

Tournament betting

At the big tournaments bookmakers will now offer a variety of supplements to the overall winner coupon. These become available once the draw is made.

These can be worth considering if you want to adjust your betting options. For example, if you want to back the big favorite you may find the odds aren’t that attractive. You could instead place a bet on ‘name the finalists’, where you would add in whom you think will come through the other half of the draw.

In a different scenario you may fancy a player to do well but aren’t sure that they will necessarily win the whole thing. Alternative options here could include ‘to win quarter’ where you effectively place a bet on them to make the semi-finals; or ‘to reach final’ where you win so long as they make the final, whether or not they cross the last hurdle. One advantage here is you can relax and enjoy the final without worrying about your bets!

Some bookies will offer an even wider range of bets than this. Whenever possible, compare odds and don’t dive in unless you think there is value.

Betting In Play

Most good bookmakers now offer ‘in play’ options on tennis betting, i.e. making a bet while the match is being played. This is now an incredibly popular way to bet on sports and offers a number of advantages to those gamblers looking to find value and make a profit. I will outline some of the key reasons here.

1. Better odds

The odds on a tennis match fluctuate considerably during a match — literally, after each point. Tennis matches, by their very nature, tend to fluctuate, as each player has periods of dominance, or highs and lows, over the course of a three set match. ‘In Play’ odds will therefore rise higher than the pre-match odds available.


If, for example, you backed a top ten player to win over a top 50 player, your odds pre-match are not likely to be that special — they are expected to win and the bookmakers may not offer you that much. Now let’s say that when the match starts the same top ten player goes down a break in the first set, this opens up possibilities. The lower ranked player is leading. The outcome is far less certain and the bookmaker will have to make the odds on the top ten player higher. Making the right call in play (either backing the top ranked player or backing the upset) can really pay dividends.

2. Watch and Bet

Another advantage offered by In Play is the ability to watch the tennis match as it unfolds and bet accordingly. As we have explained, the bookmakers react to each point and adjust their odds accordingly. But if you can spot a trend developing in the match beyond the basic scoreline you are able to react and take advantage.

TV coverage varies from one country to another but is generally patchy. This can be where UNIBET comes in. Their website now streams most of the tennis you would want to watch, including the slams, the ATP and the WTA tours. Click on our link to the site and have a look for yourself what matches are covered on Unibet TV. If you register with them, and as long as you have money in your account on their site, you can watch all this tennis, completely free! It’s a great way to follow the sport and improve your decision-making:

Register for Unibet TV now!

3. Cash Out

An option that can enhance both of the previous suggestions is the Cash Out option which has been introduced to most online sites. Here, you have the option to take your current winnings before the match ends. There are of course a number of reasons why you might want to take advantage of this. If we return to our original example, let’s imagine you placed your first set bet and the match has become a tight affair, going into a third set. You stand to win if your player wins the match, but lose if they do. If you placed your bet when you received favorable odds (e.g. when your player fell behind) you can cash out and still take winnings, without risking losing it all in a tight end to the match. Generally, cash out winnings will be lower than if you wait until the end of the match, so this is a decision that needs to be made on the evidence from the match, which is where watching it live can be such an advantage.

All 3 of these methods give the modern tennis gambler a lot more scope to make informed and potentially profitable decisions than were available a few years ago. Of course, no single sports match is ever entirely predictable — that’s why we watch it. But a sensible, considered approach based on the odds and the tennis can see you turning in a profit over the long term.

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