How tennis betting works - a guide for beginners

February 13, 2020

Tennis is one of the few sports that is popular all over the world and this makes it a great game to bet on where at Unibet. That’s because there’s almost always a tennis match taking place somewhere across the planet that you can follow.

Tennis at the pinnacle is the ATP and WTA — the men’s and women’s professional circuits that compete in tournaments throughout the season. But semi-professional, regional and youth tennis all have their own big tours and can be followed if you’re really interested in the game.

For most people, attention falls on the men and women professional circuits, where players compete for ranking points and Grand Slam titles. This tennis betting guide will take you through the basics of tennis, the rules of the game and how to bet on tennis. You will learn the simplest markets for newcomers to bet on and how to live stream tennis here at Unibet!

This guide is part of our sports betting guides series.

The Rules of Tennis 

Before we look at tennis betting, let’s take a quick tour through the rules of tennis. The sport is either a two-player game that is expanded to four players if it’s a doubles match. In a singles match, each player stands either side of a net, on their ‘court’. The aim is to hit a ball over the net, land it in the other player’s court, and force the opponent into not returning the shot. Players use a racket to hit the ball with, and are allowed one bounce in their court before returning.

Players will start a ‘rally’ by serving, which gets the point underway. After each game, the players swap serves. And after two games, they swap ends. This means neither player gains an advantage from conditions such as wind or sunlight.

Players compete in knockout tournaments throughout the year. This means once you lose a game, you don’t return! It’s a tough world for many tennis players but the prize money is often worth travelling to tournaments — especially in the Grand Slams.


How tennis scoring works 

Tennis scoring looks complicated at first but is easy to pick up. Tennis is broken down into points, games, sets and eventually the match.

You win a point by any of the following:

  • You hit the ball into your opponent’s court, which is not returned
  • Your opponent hits the ball that bounces wide or outside of your court
  • Your opponent fails to hit the ball over the net and into court
  • Your opponent touches the ball with anything but their racket
  • Your opponent twice fails to serve correctly into your court (causing a ‘double fault’)

To win a game, you need to win four points by a margin of at least two. The scoring works as follows: 15, 30, 40, game. If you win the first point of the game, you move to 15-0. If the scores reach 40-40, then a tie-break is played, where the first player to win an Advantage and then the next point wins the game.

To win a set you must win six games with a margin of two. If the scores reach 5-5, the first to 7 games wins the set. If the scores reach 6-6 then there will be a tie-break to decide the set.

To win a match you must win either two of three sets, depending on the tournament. All women’s tennis and most men’s tennis consists of three-set matches. In Grand Slams, men’s tennis stretches to five sets.


Best markets to bet on Tennis

Now you know how tennis works, it’s time to look at the best betting markets for the sport. Tennis can be a very long sport and there are plenty of points available, with breaks in between. This makes it the perfect sport to bet on, because you can take your time deciding which bets to make. Here are some markets you may be interested in…


Match bet

This is the most straightforward bet and the one many newcomers to tennis betting will go for. Here, you simply bet on which player you think will win the match! Because there are no draws in tennis, there are only two options: either Player 1 or Player 2.


Correct score

Here is where you can bet on what the correct score in sets will be. Assuming you are betting on a men’s Grand Slam match, the correct scores market will offer odds on: 3-0, 3-1, 3-2, 0-3, 1-3, 2-3.



This is where you can bet on the number of games in a match. In a typical set of tennis you would expect to average between eight and 12 games. The Over/Under markets gives you the chance to bet on how many games there will be in a match and even in a single set. The market may look like this: +25.5 games or -25.5 games. You then decide whether you think it will over over the threshold (which would indicate a long three-set match) or under it.


Handicap betting

Unibet offers handicap betting on almost all tennis matches in the sportsbook. A handicap bet is where you bet on the winner of a match — but the odds are weighted. The reason for this is many tennis matches can be very one-sided, which makes them less attractive to bet on. So, the market creates a handicap in order to even out the odds.

For example, the handicap may read like this: Player 1 to win -1.5 sets. In this instance, Player 1 would need to win the match carrying an imaginary -1.5 set deficit. If they won the match 2-1 on sets, the handicap would show them as actually losing it 0.5-1.

Therefore, the player needs to win 2-0, 3-1 or 3-0 on sets in order to secure a winning bet!


Player betting

You can also bet on specific players during tournaments. This is a long-term bet where you back a player to win the title or progress a certain distance into the competition. Many tennis betting fans like to make player bets during the Grand Slams.

Player betting is a great way to follow one specific player through a competition. And often bettors will combine a number of players together. So, you could make a combination bet on the winners of the men’s and women’s singles title in a tournament, as well as backing another player to reach the quarter-finals. Combination bets greatly boost your odds but also increase the risk.


What is In Play tennis betting

In Play tennis betting is a whole new world of sports betting. This consists of bettors following the matches and making bets on a whole range of outcomes. It could be the player to win the next point or even the next game. You can sometimes bet on whether a player will double fault, or if they will win the current set by a specific score.

In Play betting is a great way to boost your sportsbook experience and is even better when you combine it with tennis live streaming!


Best tennis tournaments to bet on

Of course, the four big Grand Slams earn the most attention in tennis. These Slams are located in Australia, Paris, London and New York. Unibet offers a huge variety of betting markets on these tournaments, with In Play betting on every match.

But there are other great tournaments to bet on during the season. Early summer sees the Tours move from North America’s hard courts to the clay and grass of Europe. Tournaments such as Madrid, Monte Carlo, Rome and Barcelona have great pedigree and are steeped in tennis history.

Later in the year the Tours return to the hard courts in China and Japan, before the ATP Finals and WTA Finals take place in the fall. Here, the top-ranked players from each Tour are invited to compete in a Finals series, which are usually played indoors. The WTA and ATP Finals are great tournaments to bet on and Unibet offers live odds on every match!


Live Stream tennis

Here at Unibet we’re serious about our commitment to sport. And that’s why in some territories you can live stream tennis and bet In Play at the same time! Being able to watch and bet on tennis depends on which territory you are in. But even if tennis is not available for you, we have a range of other sports available to live stream and bet on, so you won’t miss out!


Check out the sportsbook

Now you know a bit more about tennis betting and how tennis works, it’s time to check out what the Unibet sportsbook has to offer!

We update our tennis sports betting pages every day in order to bring you the latest fixtures, stats and odds on the biggest matches. And remember, make sure to check out which matches are available to bet on In Play!



To the Tennis Betting Lobby

To the Registration Page