The level of competition at the top of tennis has been constantly rising over the past few years and the days of a Sampras or a McEnroe, or even a Federer or Nadal, dominating the field are past. For us this means a great spectacle but also more speculation about where we should put our money.
Here we take a look at three of the bookies offering the best odds and introductory deals for tennis, whether you want to put a safe bet on the early stages or back (just about) the top player in the finals. We’ll also give you a rundown on the basics of betting on tennis, the most common markets and how they work.
Best Bookmakers for Betting on Tennis
With a more limited set of outcomes than other popular sports, tennis can be a great sport to bet on if you know your stuff. Let’s see who’s offering the best odds in the business.
Another great option for betting on tennis is Coral, who have recently also launched a live-streaming feature. Coral also offer up to the minute in-play odds and have an easily navigable sports statistics feature, allowing you to browse by player or tournament.
What really makes Coral stand out is their “Specials” section which always gives great odds on novelty markets, for example “Murray not to win a Grand Slam in 2015” – a favourite of many English punters.
On top of this, only one ball has to be served for Coral to honour the result of a tennis match as valid. They are one of only a few bookies to be offering this and it means you don’t have to worry about your bet being voided when someone retires early with an injury (unless of course that happens to be your player).
As with most bookies, most promotions are offered around the Grand Slam tournaments. For all these reasons, Coral remains one of the most popular betting sites for tennis, with odds well above average and a wide range of markets covered.
Another great option is BetVictor, a recent rebranding of VCBet (and before that Victor Chandler) and one of the oldest names in the business. Their website is easy to use across all platforms and the easy to use in-play betting console is a big selling point.
BetVictor has a very simple but effective and easy to navigate results service so you can quickly navigate by sport and event. In addition to this BetVictor’s odds are always among the best for tennis and they reportedly make the lowest margin on the sport of the three bookmakers reviewed here at just 5.3%.
Tennis Bets: How to Bet on Tennis
Betting on tennis might seem simple, you pick a winner and that’s it right? Well it can be, but with as many as 20 in-play markets on a single game you probably want to explore your options a little more than that. Here we’ll have a look at some of the most common markets and explain how they work.
Obviously this list is far from exhaustive so you’ll probably want to check out one of the sites listed above for a more in-depth display of what’s on offer, particularly if your kind of bet falls into the “Specials” category.
Exactly what it says on the tin, you pick a winner and if they win the match in question, you win your bet. However, see the betting rules section below for an important caveat.
A good way of boosting your odds if you’re fairly sure of the outcome. In this market you bet on the exact score in sets of a match. For example if you bet on Murray to win his first round game on an ATP tour you might expect odds of about 1/7 whereas predicting a 2-0 or 2-1 win would boost your odds to 9/20 or perhaps 29/10 respectively.
A good option if you’re not sure who will win a match but have a good idea of how long it will go on. Match Totals markets let you bet on a total number of something in a contest, usually games. For example a best of three sets clash which is unlikely to be close, like one of Rafa Nadal’s early tournament match-ups, will give you good odds on 20.5 or Over Games because it’s probably going to be a whitewash in fewer. Conversely, if you predict a close, drawn out match, backing over a certain games total would be the bet to make.
Exactly like a match winner bet, only with a handicap applied. The handicaps are normally counted in games and include a .5 to make a draw impossible. So if Roger Federer beats Jo-Wilfried Tsonga with a result of 6-4 6-4 and you bet on Tsonga with a handicap of +3.5 you still win because Federer’s overall sets are 12 versus Tsonga’s 10 and with +3.5 he wins.
This kind of bet is great for backing your favourite player, even if you think he or she will lose, or if you think an underdog will perform better than expected but perhaps not quite well enough to win.
Who will win the tournament? Tick “each way” to claim cash if your pick comes second as well but be aware this will diminish the odds. An each way bet is effectively two bets, so £10 each way costs £20, with £10 going on the standard “to win” bet and £10 going on the each way portion. As said, the each way pays out if your player loses in the final but only pays out at ½ the standard odds.
Doubles, Trebles & Accumulators
All the markets mentioned so far are singles, combine two singles and make a double, then if both bets win you receive more than you would if you put them on separately. Add another one and make a treble, any more than that and it’s called an accumulator (although doubles and trebles are both also types of accumulator).
Every time you add another bet the odds multiply so this is a way to make big bucks but note that all bets have to win for you to claim anything. For example, you might bet on a number of players to all to win their first round games in a Grand Slam but if just one lets you down the bet loses.
Tennis Betting Rules
If the last section made betting on tennis sound easy that’s because it is, but there are a few things to be aware of and whilst the rules are generally the same, some will vary from bookie to bookie so make sure you’re using a reliable one (such as our top three tennis bookies) and you know their rules before you place a bet. Here are some standards.
Different bookies have different rules on retirement and it’s more applicable in tennis than other sports because if someone gets injured there are no substitutes. Bookmakers fall into different categories on this: either the result stands if a single ball has been served or 1 or 2 sets or even the entire match must be completed. Bookies change their rules from time to time too so, should your bet involve a retirement, contact customer support to enquire what the most up-to-date rule on retirement is.
Tie-breaks count as one game for totals markets. If a match is decided by a tie-break as happens in some tournaments (at one set all a deciding tie-break is played) this will normally count as a set.
Change of Venue or Surface
If the roof goes on in the middle of a game, for example, or if a match is postponed and continued on a new court, usually bets will stand.
A dead heat is where two or more competitors finish in a tied position. Unlikely to apply to tennis, although some specials like most aces in the tournament or fastest serve could technically qualify. Usually you will still win but with less than full returns, with standard dead heat rules applying.
Whilst this list is far from exhaustive, in this section, we detail some of the bigger tennis tournaments around the globe with a bit of information about each.
- Where: Stade Roland Garros (Paris, France)
- When: May
The French Open has been running since 1891 and is one of the four majors in tennis. It’s the only one of the majors to be played on clayed, making it a tough task for players who aren’t used to the surface. The French is played at Roland Garos in Paris, France and usually takes place over 2 weeks in late May/ early June. In 2015 the record was set for the highest prize pool in the tournaments history with over €28 million up for grabs.
The tournament itself is broken down into 5 categories, which include men’s singles, women’s single, men’s doubles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles. Throughout each event players will be seeded based on world ranking points obtained throughout the year and then the remainder of players who haven’t met a certain threshold for ranking points will be allocated accordingly. The highest ranked player will play the lowest ranked player in the first round, before working its way in. Each game will be played as best of three sets, apart from the men’s singles, which plays out as best of 5 sets. In the event that players are tied going into the last set then no tiebreaker will be player, with players required to win by 2 or more games.
Rafael Nadal is the most decorated male player in French Open history winning no fewer than 9 titles, which his latest coming in 2014. The most successful women’s player is that of Chris Evert, who went on to win 7 titles of her own from 1974 to 1986. The youngest male winner is that of Michael Chang aged just 17 years and 3 months, whilst Monica Seles is the youngest ever female to win it aged just 16 years and 6 months.
- Where: Melbourne Park (Melbourne, Australia)
- When: January
The Australian Open is often referred to as the most important of the four majors in tennis, mainly because that it’s the first to be played in the new season in January. Because it’s held in Australia in the height of their summer, many think that because of the heat it’s also one of the hardest to win, simply because of the intense pressure you need to put your body under for so many games. The Australian Open takes place in Melbourne Park and whilst it is now a hard court even, prior to 1988 it was played on grass for its inaugural start in 1905.
The event, like all majors, includes a mix of games that are on offer, including men’s singles, women’s singles, mixed doubles, men’s doubles, women’s doubles and junior games. Players get into the Open by either qualifying through world ranking points or by winning a qualifying event leading up to the tournament. Players will all be seeded for all disciplines and the higher the rank, the ‘easier’ your first opponent should be.
Attendances to the Australian Open have been on the increase over the last 10 years or so, and they now see over 720,000 pass through the Melbourne Park gates throughout the 2 weeks that the tournament last. This success has also seen a huge improvement in terms of prize fund, with over AUS 44 million on offer, spread between each discipline.
- Where: National Tennis Center (Queens, New York, US)
- When: August
The US Open is the final of the four tennis majors and is arguably renowned as one of the most exciting. Played on a hard court, the games are often fast and furious, making them a real thrill for spectators. The tournament will last for 2 weeks and will start on the last Monday in August and run through to September. The competition is played in New York at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, fetching in a prize pool in excess of $42 million. It’s worth noting that the USTA who owns the US Open is a non-profit organisation and any funds that they acquire from revenue for the US Open is all ploughed straight back in to develop tennis at grassroots levels throughout the US.
Like all other majors, you’re going to be able to see men’s singles, women’s singles, mixed doubles and then junior games all on offer at the US Open. The men’s game is the only format that is played out as the best of 5 sets, with tiebreaks not occurring in the final set and a two game minimum winning margin needed. All other games are played out as best of 3 sets and again, won’t include tiebreaks.
Each round will be a straight knockout format and the draw will be made based on each player’s world ranking and in turn seed for that tournament. The seeded players will be kept apart from opposite ends of the draws and cant be drawn against each other in the first round. All other qualifiers for the US Open will enter the pot and then be draw out randomly.
There are 3 players who hold a record 7 singles titles at The US Open, which are Richard Sears, Bill Larned and Bill Tiden. On the women’s side, Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza hold the record for most victories with 8 apiece, making them the most successful women to have played the event.
- Where: All England Club (Wimbledon, London, UK)
- When: July
Founded in 1877, Wimbledon is the oldest tennis tournament in the world and arguably the most prestigious to go alongside that. The tournament takes place at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club and is the only one of the four majors that is played on grass. It takes place over two weeks at the back of June/ early July and includes men’s, women’s and mixed doubles competitions, along with a junior competition that runs alongside.
The tournament itself is mainly made up of players within the top 100 officially ranked places, but there are also 8 wildcard spots that the officials at Wimbledon can distribute accordingly. There are also a number of qualifying spots for players trying to earn their way in. The men’s game is played as the best of 5 sets and the women’s is the best of three. Each format will include a tie-break at the end of the set should the scores be tied, but in the last set a player must win by two clear games to become victorious. Throughout each stage is a knockout format, and players will progress accordingly.
Both Pete Sampras and Roger Federer are the most decorated players in the men’s gaming winning 7 titles each. Martina Navratilova is the most decorated female winning no fewer than 9 singles titles from 1978 to 1990. The prize fund of £28 million is the highest of any of the 4 majors.
ATP World Tour Finals
- Where: Worldwide
- When: November
The World Tour Finals is the final event on the tennis calendar and whilst it’s not a major, it is highly regarded as one of the most lucrative prizes for the players to win. The tournament has been running since 1970 and includes the top 8 ranked players in the world who will paly off at the O2 Arena in London to decide the overall winner. The rankings are decided on the points that are won throughout the season, with the player with the highest number of points have the best ranking. The tournament only includes the men’s game, with a doubles competition running as well.
The 8 players are split up into two groups of 4, which is unlike any other event they play on tour. The payers then play each other once, before the top 2 positions from each group then go into the pot for the semi-final draw. They then play a straight knockout format where the winner will be crowned in the final. Rankings points can be won from each of the games that the players play, meaning they can in fact improve on their overall World Ranking, even though it is deemed an end of season bash.
Roger Federer has won the most World Tour finals with 6 to his name, closely followed by Ivan Lendl, Pete Sampras and Novak Djokovic, with 5 wins apiece. Federer also holds the record for most appearances in the final, with 14 to his name.
- Where: Worldwide
- When: September
The Davis Cup has been running since 1900 and is the only team event that tennis players really get to play. The players will be representing their home nation and they will play matches against other nations in order to become the overall winner. There are 130 nations in total that compete for the chance to win, but only 16 make it into the World Group. Once in, the 16 teams will play a straight knockout format before advancing to the next round.
The games played throughout a Davis cup tie will vary, but in total 5 games will be played, mixed between singles and doubles games. To win the overall match the team must gain 3 points or more (1 point for a players victory) before their team then advances to the next round. Each individual match will follow the rules of tennis, but instead of 5 sets as played in the majors, the games are best of 3 sets with tiebreakers occurring in the first 2 sets then having to win by 2 games or more in the final set to become the overall winner.
United States are the most successful nation in Davis Cup history, winning on 9 separate occasions from 1972.