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How To Bet On Tennis

The growth of online sports betting and in-play markets in particular has seen most growth in tennis betting and billions of pounds is bet on the sport every year. Tennis is the second most popular betting sport after football. Bookmakers and betting exchanges take more bets on tennis than all sports but soccer. One of the main attractions of in-play tennis betting is the multiple betting options and fast turnover of odds. A typical tennis match offers about 20 pre-match markets and about the same number for betting in-running. This growth began towards the middle of the last decade as more firms emerged focusing on sports rather than the traditional betting options of horse racing and greyhounds. The opportunities for how to bet on tennis see no limits and odds are now on offer for every aspect of the sport.

Simon Clare is a spokesman for Coral so is up to speed with developments in the industry. The Mail Online is the digital version of the Daily Mail, a popular national newspaper in the United Kingdom. The Coral man was quoted on the Mail website as saying:

Early in the century internet tennis betting was pretty small. There was not much in the betting shops bar Wimbledon. But the growth of internet betting and betting in-play has seen it grow dramatically. It has surged through the last decade to become the second biggest sport bet on behind football. There are a lot of events played around the world each year and it is perfect for in-play. Better than cricket or golf. The problem with any sport which involves two players, be it darts, snooker or tennis, is that if one player decides he or she is not going to try too hard it opens up big opportunities.

how to bet on tennis

Integrity and Tennis Betting

In recent years there have been integrity issues when looking at how to bet on tennis but they are very uncommon and the authorities take measure to eliminate match-fixing. A dossier of suspicious fixtures is maintained but the problem is more anecdotal than widespread. Matches come under close scrutiny and the tours say anti-corruption measures are sufficient. Players not putting in maximum effort is different than throwing a match for financial gain. Shrewd bettors are aware of players prone to giving up and this is part of the research when making betting decisions on a match. It is within everybody’s interest to maintain integrity within the sport. Some members of the media present evidence of corruption in a sensational way and although some exists it is rare and involves lower ranking players in minor tournaments.

Bookmakers have procedures in place to identify unusual tennis betting activity and especially from new accounts. Some bookmakers are particularly wary of new accounts opened by employees of competitors who many have some information that gives them an edge. It is a form of insider trading but there is no formal procedure to regulate against this happening. Bookmakers can employ security staff who monitor betting patters in association with the sport’s governing bodies. Integrity in tennis has received some high profile coverage in the media. The problem does exist but it is in the best interests of all parties to prevent and eradicate this damaging aspect of the sport. Investigations in the media often exaggerate and sensationalise corruption in tennis but the bookmakers and authorities should not be complacent.

Scoring System

Tennis is suited to betting and how to bet on tennis because of the scoring system and format of the game. The objective is to score points by playing winners or creating unforced errors from the opponent. A tennis match is divided into points, games and sets which can all be bet on. A single point can last between two seconds and over a minute or more and the winner of each point is not certain. There could be over 200 points in a three-hour match so there is plenty of scope for spot betting. Bets are settled quickly so a customer will be credited after a winning bet and the funds can be used again. Customers like to bet regularly and quickly and tennis is ideal for betting in this way.

A player must win four points with an advantage of two points to win a game. A player must win six games with an advantage of two games in order to win a set. In men’s Grand Slams a player must win three sets to win a match and all other matches in the men’s and women’s game are decided over three sets. Tie-breaks are used to decide a set if the games score reaches six-all. Players must win seven points with an advantage of two points to win a tie-break. Sports bettors can place bets on all of these outcomes in matches that generally last between one and three hours but sometimes less than that time and often more.

Statistics

Tennis is a game of numbers and lends itself to statistics and these are useful when examining how to bet on tennis. There are many sites out there that publish recent results and head-to-head outcomes to assist tennis betting. The sport is played on a number of surfaces and players are more suited to one than others. Analysing relative and head-to-head form in different conditions is a useful tool. The men’s and women’s game is played indoors and outdoors on hardcourts, and on clay, grass and carpet. The calendar is split into times of the year in which events are played on one specific surface. Points can be analysed in various ways, in particular after a first or second serve. The serve begins a point and if the first serve is a fault a player has a second chance but two faults on serve loses a point.

Challenges

One relative modern development is referring to video evidence to settle the outcome of a disputed call. A system is in place at the most important tournaments which monitors where the ball lands on a court. A tennis playing surface includes lines and certain areas where the ball has to land after a serve or shot in a rally. Umpires and linesman make the call but players are allowed to challenge three times in every set. Play is halted and pictures are shown which give a definitive answer to the question of where a ball landed in the court. Time delays are kept to a minimum and the development has improved the game. Challenges add to the drama and as they are limited become a tactic. If any number of challenges were allowed a match would become a whole series of calls. A player must assess the match situation and the chances of the desired decision when using a challenge. Some are made in desperation when a match is slipping away but most have a legitimacy and a chance of being won.

Best Tennis Bookmakers

Tennis is extensively covered by internet bookmakers and most have the minimum of a two way match market, total games and a handicap. Here are some of the bookmakers that provide a good tennis betting service, both pre-match and in–play:

 

 

Ladbrokes

Ladbrokes is one of the most recognised betting brands in the UK and is a trusted bookmaker. They were one of the first firms to offer tennis betting in their shops but the product was limited to who would win Wimbledon. New customers can take advantage of a £50 bonus using Bonus Code . This offer that can be used on tennis matches is subject to the following terms and conditions:

  • New online and mobile customers
  • Deposit of a minimum of £5 required
  • First bet matched up to £50
  • Qualifying bet must be for £5 at least
  • Odds restriction of 1.5 or greater

This concession is one of several static and ongoing promotions. The range of offers includes wincast boosts for soccer matches, daily price boosts, best odds guaranteed for UK and Irish racing, greyhounds guaranteed odds and a cash out facility.

go to ladbrokes

Tennis appears on the main sports page of the site. The tennis coupon included match odds for Wimbledon and ante post markets for the Davis Cup, US Open, Australian Open and the Olympics. There are more than 20 markets for each individual match under the following headings: popular markets, all markets, handicap markets,      serve markets, set markets, tie break markets, total games markets and other markets.

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Matchbook

Matchbook is an exchange bookmaker trying to enter a market dominated by Betfair. New customers can take advantage of a £15 back and £15 lay Welcome Bonus using the Bonus Code MAXBONUS . As a relatively new betting exchange Matchbook has limited liquidity in its markets for sport including tennis. The key to an effective betting exchange is the taking and accepting of bets at a mutually agreeable price. Tennis matches generates a huge amount of bets on Betfair and Matchbook tries to compete by offering greater rates of commission but if there is no liquidity in a market bets are less likely to be matched and some could be part matched or unmatched.

The Welcome Bonus is offered in line with the following terms and conditions:

  • Offer applies to new customers only
  • Qualifying bets must be both £15 back bet and £15 lay bet on two separate markets on the Matchbook exchange for sports including tennis
  • If either bets lose stakes will be refunded as Bonus Funds
  • The Bonus Funds can be used on tennis markets and other sports and the maximum amount that is refunded is £30
  • Bets must be at odds of 2.5 or less for the back bet and 1.67 or bigger for the lay bet

bet at matchbook

The Matchbook tennis product is limited in terms of the tournaments covered and the markets for each match. Even matches at Wimbledon, the most prestigious tennis tournament in the world, only included back and lay odds for the two-way winner of the tie market. Liquidity for tennis is minimal compared to Betfair and its difficult to see how the site attracts backers and layers to their tennis product.

matchbook-tennis-betting

William Hill

As a sportsbook developed from a leading UK betting brand William Hill covers all the major British betting sports including tennis. Like all other internet bookmakers the company takes most bets on football but tennis is the second most popular sport for betting. Horse racing appears on the extreme left of the main sports menu as betting offices in the UK initially focused on this sport. Football appears next on the horizontal menu and the next option is tennis.

Customers new to William Hill can take advantage of a £25 bonus using Bonus Code . The bonus can be claimed through affiliate sites by clicking a ‘Claim Now’ button. Customers must open a new account using a William Hill Promo Code. Once funds have been deposited into a new account a £25 free bet is available to use for betting on sports such as tennis.

bet at william hill

The William Hill tennis product is split by matches and coupons. Matches can also be found in the following categories: men’s matches, women’s matches, 1st set betting, match result and both players to win a set, TV matches, ITF and Challenger Tour matches and tennis enhanced odds. Players are grouped in bundles and the accumulated odds for each winning bet are enhanced. At times William Hill offers special markets for tournaments and matches.

Wimbledon is the biggest tournament of the year and the most popular for tennis betting. The tournament has blanket coverage on the BBC which is a mainstream channel that can be viewed without paying a subscription as such. It is funded by the licence fee but can’t afford to pay huge fees for television rights. Wimbledon is one of the crown jewels that has to be shown on free-to-view television.

Matches in the men’s singles get the most comprehensive coverage with 29 markets related to the two-way match market. The markets are split into the following categories: match betting, game handicaps, total games in a match, number of sets, match result and both players to win a set, first set betting, second set scorecast, second set betting and second set scorecast.
williamhill-betting

Main Events

In looking at how to bet on tennis the structure of the sport should be highlighted. The two main professional tours are the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) for men and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) for women. Generally the two tours don’t coincide geographically but both sexes play at the four Grand Slam tournaments staged throughout the year. Many matches in the majors are shown live on television and there is plenty of betting interest. Outright markets are available well before play begins and they are updated after every series of matches. The Grand Slam events have a draw of 128 players, including a small number of qualifiers and wildcards. Qualifying tournaments are played in the days leading up to the main tournament and wildcards are often given to players from the country in which the event is played.

The four majors are the most popular events for betting and offer the most extensive range of markets, both pre-match and in-play. The best player’s careers are defined by how they perform in the majors as they bring together all the leading players who want to win. Prize money and prestige are good motivators so form and effort can be guaranteed and this helps for betting. Players are more likely to cope with a niggling injury when playing in a major than in minor tournaments. The four Grand Slam events for men and women’s are described below:

  • Australian Open – played in Melbourne in January and February outdoors on hardcourts when the weather is very hot
  • French Open – played in Paris in May and June outdoors on clay when the weather can be warm but cloudy
  • Wimbledon – played in Wimbledon in June and July outdoors on grass when the weather can be anything
  • US Open – played in New York in August and September outdoors on hardcourts when the weather is warm and dry

Playing conditions vary because of the climate and surface. Winning each of the four at least once is known as the career Grand Slam which is derived from a baseball term. The achievement of winning all four is rare and in the men’s game only seven players have accomplished this, most recently Novak Djokovic who won the French Open on clay in 2016 to complete the set. Ten women have won all four majors at least once. The Golden Slam comprises the four majors and the Olympics which is rarer because players can only compete for a gold medal every four years. Andy Murray is an Olympic champion who as at June 2016 had won two of the four majors.

On the ATP Tour the next level below the majors are the Masters 1000 events, which offer the most ranking points and prize money outside the four most important tournaments of the year. There are nine Masters events on a variety of surfaces, in different locations and at different times of the year. The draw usually includes 96 players and professionals must play in a minimum to maintain their ranking. In the women’s game the equivalent are the premier mandatory’s of which there are five. Both Tours culminate with world finals at the end of the season. The remaining events on the calendars are minor tournaments with a draw of 32 players or even just 28 players with the four best getting a bye to the second round.

Best Tennis Betting Markets

Some markets are more suited to tennis betting and identifying them can assist when looking at how to bet on tennis. Bookmakers offer tennis bettors a wide range of markets with a built-in profit market. When a set of odds is framed the mathematics means the bookmaker has a theoretical edge. This margin means if that every player is backed to win £100 the bookmaker will have a guaranteed profit. In most cases there is not a perfect spread of bets and some outcomes may be continuously backed despite price reductions. In tennis some markets offer better value than others as the margins are smaller. The potential returns are less but this is the trade-off with better value.

Here are some of the more punter-friendly tennis betting markets:

Tournament Winner

Ahead of a tournament bookmakers will issue prices on the outright winner. These prices are available for the four Grand Slam tournaments for several months before the start of play. The minor events are usually priced up in the days leading up to an event. Odds are updated during the tournament based on weight of money and the form of each player. Outright odds are available win and each way and the place terms are usually one third the odds for the first two places. As the tournament progresses there may only be a win market especially if there is a strong favourite. Wildcard players should be avoided when betting on the tournament winner. Wimbledon in particular invites British players not already qualified and they have a dismal record in all tournament and individual match markets.

Match Winner

Customers can bet on the match winner in each round of a tournament. Match odds are usually on bookmaker websites on the evening before each match. This is a two-way market as tennis is a head-to-head sport with one winner and one loser. Bookmakers apply rules when a match is not completed due to injury, default or disqualification. Some say a point must be played and others specify a set before bets can be settled. Bets are either voided or settled on the player to progress to the next round. It is very rare for both players not to be able to play in any round. Wildcard players rarely progress beyond the early rounds as they have not been good enough to qualify by right. Wildcards are often from the host nation to provide some local interest in the early rounds of tournaments.

Set Winner

Bookmakers offer odds on the winner of the first set before a match begins. It is not possible to bet on subsequent sets as the winner of the first set is a factor in setting this market. This is another two-market and there are rules for uncompleted sets. The favourite to win a match will be the favourite to win the first set. Once a match has started and one player serves the odds will move in favour of this player and against the receiver. A break of serve is the most significant event in a set of tennis and the player that serves in the first game is more likely to break serve sooner.

To Break Serve

A break of serve will often decide a set, especially in men’s tennis in which the opening shot of a rally is more dominant than for women. Some players base their game on a strong serve and other parts are weaker. In a match with a strong server the chances of a service break are less. Players who rely more on ground strokes and court strategy are more likely to be involved in sets with an above average number of service breaks. Bettors can analyse serving statistics to get a feel for the potential for breaks. The player that serves first will also influence the odds on which player breaks the serve of his opponent first.

Worst Tennis Betting Markets

Conversely, there are some tennis betting markets that offer less value due to their nature and identifying them can help when assessing how to bet on tennis. These markets are more speculative and less player-form related. Statistics can be looked at to make betting decisions but many factors other than historical records determine the outcome. The less appealing markets from a betting point of view don’t have a massive influence on the overall outcome of a match. The loss of one point or one game can be significant but not always ultimately costly in the context of winning a match. Players can lose points, games and even sets but the scoring system allows them to still win a match.

Total Games

Tennis bettors can bet on the number of games in a set or match in two ways. Some markets are binary in that customers can bet on more or less than a specified number of games. Half game odds are quoted to prevent a tie and the refund of stakes which is not desirable for the customer or bookmaker. Game lines are also quoted in bands which gives scope for three-way markets. The more choices a gambler has the better for the bookmakers who prefer three-way markets to two-way markets.

Games Handicap

Bookmakers issue odds on handicap markets when there is a big favourite and big outsider. Handicaps are designed to encourage equal two-way money in uncompetitive events. Tennis games handicaps usually relate to the number of games in a match and not the number of games in a set. Again half-game odds are used to prevent the tie and refunds. Handicaps can be fraught with danger. A player may have almost won a set and motivation can drop. This dip can result in the loss of an inconsequential game which affects the final handicap outcome and bet settlement.

Race to 10 Points

Tennis lends itself to multiple bets and a quick turnover of markets. Customers like to bet regularly and often and bets on the match winner can take several hours to reach expiry. A relatively short-lasting market is the race to 10 points. The outcome is heavily dependent on who serves first in a match. That player is much more likely to reach ten points before the opponent. The player that reaches this number of points first is not necessarily more likely to win the match. The serving sequence heavily affects the outcome. A player may have a lead in games and losing one single point will not be conclusive in the outcome of a game, set or the match.

Game Correct Score

This is market that is prone to the loss of a game when a set has been decided. If a player leads 5-0 in a set there is little way back for the opponent. The player leading can afford to lose one game and still win the set comfortably. The loss of one game does not have a material affect on the winner of the set or the match winner but influences the game score in a set. Therefore, this market is particularly volatile and unpredictable and hence favoured by bookmakers.

Tennis In-Play Betting

In-play tennis betting has grown alongside the development of betting exchanges and is an important part of any discussion about how to bet on tennis. This relatively new type of bookmaker allows customers to place bets and accept bets, therefore acting as a bookmaker. Exchange betting is suited to in-play betting as it allows customers to close a position to ensure a profit or minimise the damage when odds go contrary to the prediction. Bookmakers have now introduced a Cash Out facility so bets can be closed before expiry. Tennis bets can be cashed out in-running when odds fluctuate as a match develops. Cash out facilities are available on many tennis markets and the range will increase as cashing out is good for bookmakers. During a tennis match customers are offered a cash out value based on the initial odds, match situation and the movement of the odds. Bets in many tennis markets can be cashed out to ensure a profit or minimise a loss.

The first in-play live tennis match appeared on a sportsbook in about 2003 and since then there has been a massive growth. Initially the range of markets was limited and included match winner, set winner, number of breaks and number of games. Currently there are more than 20 markets available for in-play tennis. The overall offer includes match and set long markets and others that are more suited to spot betting. It is now possible to bet on the outcome of each point during a match. Customers can place many spot bets during a tennis match and this is one of the attractions of tennis betting. Bookmakers provide odds for the player to reach a certain number first in the form of race to 10 points or 20 points.

Tennis is shown live on mainstream and dedicated sports channels and live coverage increases betting turnover. For example the BBC in the UK offers blanket coverage of the Wimbledon Championships. ITV4 shows the French Open and the two other majors are shown live on Sky Sports and Eurosport. Matches are shown in their entirety regardless of their length as the schedules are freed up to focus purely on tennis. It helps that the main satellite services in the UK have several channels dedicated to sport.

A multitude of tennis matches are live streamed on bookmaker websites. In some cases customers must place a bet to gain access to a match. In-play coverage includes scores updates and statistics for things like breaks of serve, unforced errors and winners. A graphic shows the position of the ball on the court and scores are updated as soon as a point has been completed. Live streaming encourages in-play turnover on tennis matches. Updates show the current point, game and set scores and graphics show which player is serving and the outcome of a point. There are also several sites that provide live scores for the main betting sports, including tennis.

In-Play Tennis Tips

One of the massive growth areas in sports betting over the last ten years has been in-play tennis betting. A study of how to bet on tennis must refer to in-play tennis betting. Odds fluctuate from point to point and in the space of just a few minutes or points both players can be the underdog or favourite. The most significant event in a set of tennis is the service break. Its importance depends on the surface and the gender of the players. In many men’s singles matches on grass at Wimbledon one service break can decide a set. Ladies playing on the clay at the French Open can exchange several breaks in a set of tennis. A strong server has an advantage but the degree of that edge changes from surface to surface. Clay produces most breaks and grass the fewest but the serve still dominates matches on hard courts and carpet. The different surfaces make certain styles easier and in some cases the kick serve is a useful tool.

When betting in-play reference to service statistics by surface is useful. There are many sites that analyse results by surface and provide statistics for serving success. In general terms a server will always be the favourite to win a game before the first point has been played. If the receiver wins the first point in some cases he would become the favourite to win the game and his price would shorten in the two-way match market. If the server wins the second point to tie the game at 15-15 prices for the game and related markets would revert back to how they were at the start of the game.  Love-30 means the server has lost the first two points but in winning the next point would still be in a strong position to win the game. As a general guide backing the server to win a game from a losing position is a winning system. There is an overreaction in the prices and the server gains control of the game by winning one point back. Only a love-40 situation is usually beyond recall but it does happen.

The server sets the tone for a point and can take control of a rally. However, some players excel at returning the serve and statistics for points won receiving a first and second serve are useful in identifying these players. Players are better receivers on certain surfaces and on clay in particular the serve is not so dominant. Clay is a slow surface on which the ball bounces rather than skids. Receivers have more time to play a strategic return to take control of the rally and then the point can be won by either player. On grass and hard courts taking control of a rally as the reciever is more difficult. The server has more control and can take the receiver out of position while creating the opening to play a winner or unreturnable shot. Players have two chances to get the ball in play from a serve. Many try to serve as fast as possible with the serve, in the knowledge that they have a second serve if the first one is not legal. Failing to get the ball in play from both serves is called a double fault and a point is lost. Therefore, the second serve is slower as the objective is to now get the ball in platy rather then win the point.

In five set matches losing the first set is less crucial than in three set matches. Strong favourites who lose the first set might still be the favourite in longer matches as there is more room for error. Again there is often a bookmaker overreaction after the first set but five set matches provide opportunities to take advantage. Mentally losing the opening set in short matches is more difficult than falling behind over a five set contest. In matches of any length more men than women win a match after losing the first set. Backing the favourite to win a match and lose a set is a good betting system and this happens more often than suggested by the pre-match and in-play odds especially in the men’s game. In five set matches players have been known to lose the first two sets, win the remaining three and win the match.

Summary of Tennis Betting

Here are some guidelines for betting on tennis:

How to bet on tennis

  1. Tennis is well suited to in-play betting due to the swings in momentum which cause odds to fluctuate. At different stages of a match both players can be the favourite and the underdog so careful trading can be profitable.
  2. Players are suited to the different surfaces and their likeness for hardcourts, grass, clay and carpet can be used to work out bets when two players are equally matched in the betting markets.
  3. In the minor tournaments players are less likely to be fully committed and show their form. The events away from the Grand Slam and Masters tournaments carry fewer ranking points and much less prize money.
  4. Tennis win markets offer two-way odds and these are easier to win on than markets with several options. Relative world rankings can be used to compare a player’s recent form and results over a fair amount of time.
  5. Match start times are just a guide and the matches could start later but rarely sooner. Start times are dependent on the time taken to complete the previous match on a court and weather delays.

When to bet on tennis

  1. Bookmakers issue ante-post odds on the four Grand Slams (Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open) several months in advance and these odds fluctuate due to injury and changes in form.
  2. For regular and Masters tournaments that begin on a Monday outright odds will be posted on online sportsbooks the previous day at the latest and sometimes sooner but odds can change.
  3. Tennis tournaments are played on a pre-defined draw format. The brackets are set so it is possible to project possible matches throughout tournaments. Bookmakers will issue prices once a match in the following round is known.
  4. Many tennis matches can be bet on in-play and viewed through live streaming. Bookmakers update about 20 markets during live matches and there are betting opportunities right up until the last point is played.
  5. Men and women play on global tours in different time zones. At times there is 24 hour coverage if tournaments in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres take place in the same week.

 Where to bet on tennis

  1. Tennis is the second most popular betting sport after football so just about every online sportsbook offers outright and match betting for men’s and women’s tennis.
  2. Betting exchanges such as Betfair and Matchbook allow customers to back and lay tennis players. Price fluctuations make tennis a good sport for trading and a good trader can guarantee a profit regardless of the outcome.
  3. Tennis bettors use bookmakers that offer a cash out facility. Cashed out bets are insurance against odds going against the bettor and provide definite returns even if ultimately a match does not end how predicted.
  4. Amongst the leading bookmakers the following are recommended for tennis betting: Ladbrokes, Matchbook, William Hill and ComeOn.
  5. Some other bookmakers are well suited to tennis with a good service and these include Coral, Paddy Power, Stan James Skybet, and Betfred.

Leading Players for Betting

The world rankings measure a player’s standing in the game. However, the rankings are weighted in favour of recent results and do not reflect injury breaks. Ranking points are awarded based on the round a player departs a tournament and the quality of the field. Some players are moving down the rankings and some are moving in the opposite direction and may have been underestimated by the bookmakers. Please find below five male players and five female players to follow. Some of the names are obvious and these players will be the favourite for most of their matches. Other names may be more obscure and have been put forward as players to follow due to the direction they are moving in the rankings and if they are making progress.

Men

The men’s rankings are calculated for each registered professional by taking points won from each level of tournament during the season. The men’s Tour is structured around the four Grand Slams, eight Masters events that are mandatory and regular tournaments on the ATP Tour, Challenger Tour and Futures tournaments. The rankings are historical and objective and are used to determine who gets direct entry into tournaments and seedings. The period used to calculate each player’s position in the standings is the previous 52 weeks so one week is dropped at the start of a new week. There are special dispensations for injured players which equates to neutral points so there is no loss of points from a missed tournament.

When a player does not appear in the main draw an additional result from a previous tournament is taken into account. There is a calculation based on number of ranking points for any tournament. Therefore the Grand Slams carry the most ranking points and the Futures tournaments carry the fewest. The point’s breakdown goes from a maximum of 2,000 points for a Grand Slam winner to one point for reaching the last 16 of a Futures event. The ATP Tour Finals bring together the top seven players in the rankings with one position reserved for a Grand Slam winner not already qualified.

Here are five male players to follow for betting purposes. The nationality and world ranking as at the end of June 2016 is shown in brackets after the name of each player. All records are correct at this date.

Novak Djokovic (Serbia, 1)
This is an obvious choice but Djokovic cannot be opposed in any match he plays on all surfaces but the odds reflect his dominance of the men’s game. In the first half of 2016 Djokovic lost just three times in 47 matches and had established a clear lead at the top of the rankings. Clay was always seen as his weakest surface but he finally won the French Open to complete the career Grand Slam. Djokovic has been most dominant on hardcourts losing once in 27 matches on the surface. He is a certainty to win more majors in the future and he can continue to dominate the sport for a number of years.

Alexander Zverev (Germany, 28)
Zverev has been moving in the right direction in the rankings during 2016 and backing him blind would have won money over a four week and 52 week period. He is still ahead of the bookmakers so should be backed when he meets players ahead of him in the rankings. He won 28 of 41 matches in the first six months of 2016 and further improvement is expected over the rest of the season and into 2017. His best win/loss ratio is for clay so he will be worth following during the European clay court season in the spring of 2017. Zverev was born in 1997 so he is still developing physically and learning court craft.

Steve Johnson (United States, 29)
This player is moving in a positive direction in the world rankings even though overall he has had an average season, winning 14 of 29 matches in total. He is another player who would win his backers money if they had followed him over a 4 week and 52 week period. Johnson has a poor record on clay so should be opposed next spring in Europe. His best surface is grass but that only provides limited betting opportunities but he looks good value in the brief grass court season centred around Wimbledon. In 2015 he had a good hard court record after Wimbledon and leading up to the US Open so the late summer in 2016 could be a good period for his backers.

Grigor Dimitrov (Bulgaria, 37)
Dimitrov was recognised as a future Grand Slam champion in 2014 when he reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon. His form has dipped somewhat but he is now moving in the right direction in the rankings. Dimitrov has won 19 of his 33 matches in 2016 to date but backing him in each match over a 52 week period would have resulted in significant losses. Despite excelling on grass two years ago Dimitrov is most effective on hard courts. In his career best year of 2014 he lost 13 matches from 41 on the surface. He is gradually moving up the rankings and getting closer to his career best standing which is eight in August 2014.

Andreas Seppi (Italy, 45)
In the week proceeding the start Wimbledon Championships in June Seppi made the most progress up the rankings of any player in the top 100. With a small number of points to protect at Wimbledon further progress over the second half of 2016 is expected. His short term progress is reflected in his winning bet rating in the four weeks before Wimbledon when over a full year his win return was negative. His match win ratio is 15 from 29 matches and his results are consistent across all surfaces. Seppi is a solid operator who could reward backers over the second half of the 2016 season.

Women

The women’s rankings are also based on a cumulative period of one full year. A player’s ranking is based on results in 16 tournaments at most. The counting events over 52 weeks are those that earn a player most points. These include the four Grand Slams, Premier Mandatory tournaments and the season end championships.

Five female players are highlighted here that could provide profitable betting. Each player’s nationality and world ranking as at the end of June 2016 is shown in brackets after their name. These records are correct as June 30th 2016.

Garbine Muguruza (Spain, 2)
World number one Serena Williams is still the player to beat but Mugururza is getting closer in the rankings and beat the best player in the world in the final of the French Open on clay. The Spanish player is gradually improving her match win percentage over time and could reach the pinnacle of the game in the near future. She has a good all-round game suited to most surfaces and is a player to follow in the US Open.

Madison Keys (United States, 9)
Keys is trying to get established in the top 10 of the women’s game and is moving in the right direction in the rankings. She has won 22 of 29 singles matches this season and that is her best win percentage rate over six months of any year. She is a punter’s friend due to a positive bet rating over a four and 52 week period. Her best surface is clay so could be a player to watch in Europe in the spring.

Dominika Cibulkova (Slovakia, 18)
This player made the most progress in the right direction of any player in the top 30 in the week before the Wimbledon Championships. Cibulkova has the potential to make the top 10 and a strong second half of the season is expected. She won 29 of 40 singles matches in the first half of the 2016 season and her best surface is hardcourts indoors. Backing her blind over 52 weeks would have meant winning money.

Monica Puig (Puerto Rico, 36)
Puig was a big climber in the standings towards the end of June and can continue to move in the right direction during and after Wimbledon. In 2014 and 2015 she lost more singles matches than she won but this time she has won 27 of 43 contests on all surfaces. She is on a winning run for backers and progress can continue leading up the US Open, the final Grand Slam tournament of the season.

Elena Vesnina (Russia, 50)
Vesnina entered the top 50 at the end of the first half of the season but has still some way to go before reaching her highest career ranking of 24 achieved in 2009. She is in front for betting over the last 52 weeks and during the last four weeks. Vesnina has won 19 of 28 matches this season and on results her best surface is hardcourts.

Price Factors

Odds for tennis matches are compiled on the basis of the following factors:

Motivation

Motivation is a key factor in making betting decisions for tennis matches and assessing whether the odds on offer represent value. In the week following a major players in contention may suffer mental letdown. After competing in one of the four most prestigious events of the year playing in a minor event soon after may lead to commitment slightly below 100%. A small edge can be crucial in a head-to-head sport like tennis. Emotional highs from playing in an event close to home can decide the outcome of a match. Positive and negative mental associations can also come into play and must be factored in to betting decisions.

Professionals hate the word tank because it is the word used for throwing in the towel and not trying as hard as possible. There are regular examples of a high-ranked player entering a minor tournament on the basis of an appearance fee. The high ranked player often loses at big odds or retires through injury before the conclusion of a match. Individual retirement records are useful when considering matches between elite players and opponents well down the rankings. Some players are more prone to injuries and others are better equipped to handle pain and maintain their best form while others have a more vulnerable nature.

Fitness

Tennis is a physically demanding game which requires small bursts of speed and acceleration at regular intervals. A fitness edge can be the difference between winning and losing especially in extended matches over five sets. Tennis players are always dealing with niggles and it can be useful to examine a player’s schedule. Players are in their best condition early in the year and pick up injuries as the season progresses. Most players tour with fitness coaches who are on hand following an injury sustained in a match or during training. Events have physiotherapy services and only a few officials and fellow players and those giving the treatment will know the full extent of an injury. In betting having some inside knowledge is useful so having a on the ground can be worth a great deal. Some former players have become tipsters on the grounds of having an insight into how player deal with injuries.

If a player comes through qualifying and plays deep into a tournament he is vulnerable the following week. If events are a fair distance apart the travelling can add to the negatives. Knowledge of individual players and their routines can be important in making tennis betting pay. Some players can cope with minor injuries and can maintain their form with a minor handicap. Long term injuries mean absence from the Tour and a loss of ranking points so some players will continue to play when their bodies demands otherwise. There are dispensations for injury breaks within the format of the world rankings but an absence of more than three months will be reflected in a player’s position in the standings which determines entry into the Grand Slam and Masters tournaments.

Surface

One of the most important factors when considering the likely winner of a match is the playing conditions and the biggest element in this context is the surface. Some players excel on clay courts and others prefer hardcourts and some indeed consistently produce their best results on grass. That surface is the most different to the others so specialists are easier to identify. Andy Murray reached the final of the French Open in 2016 but over the course of his career clay has been his weakest surface. He made a concerted effort to adapt his game to clay and he is now one of a small number of players who could complete the career Grand Slam. As at June 2016 Murray had played in the final of each major and won at Wimbledon and the US Open but lost finals in the Australian Open and French Open. Only seven male players in the history of the sport have won each Grand Slam at least once with Novak Djokovic the latest to complete the set in the French Open in 2016.

There are many useful sites for checking stats for each payer on different surfaces. Head-to-head results by surface are useful and it is possible to calculate sets and games won by surface. Information about players facing opponents of different heights is also useful. A taller player like John Isner is more likely to have a dominant serve than a player with a smaller stature who wins points by strategy and not power. Courts with the same surface can have different speeds and there are fast outdoor hard courts and slow outdoor courts. Indoor speeds vary too but knowing which is more about observation than statistical evidence. Generally the quicker courts have been replaced by slower versions as these are more likely to produce long and entertaining rallies not dominated by the serve. Attendances at matches and television audiences are bigger for tournaments not dominated by the serve. The one exception is Wimbledon but in the UK that is just as much an institution as a tennis tournament.

Weather

The weather can be an important factor in outdoor tournaments. Conditions are more settled and consistent indoors but the heating and atmosphere can affect court conditions and favour some players more than others. Roger Federer is seen by some as the best player ever but even he has preferred playing conditions. He has won tournaments on all surfaces but he relishes matches indoors on hard courts and carpet. Wind is more of a factor in tournaments played in the open air. Tennis is played around the globe over eleven months of the year so in a typical season a wide range of playing conditions will be experienced. The better players adapt and mentally accept conditions that might not be ideal but the same for both players. .

Players with an unreliable or high ball toss are more susceptible to windy conditions. The ball is thrown into the air and then hit to begin a point. The serve is the most important shot in tennis so having a reliable ball-toss is crucial. Wind can play havoc with a high ball toss and a more compact delivery is less prone to outside influences.  Some players who can hardly get the ball in the air are at a massive disadvantage when the wind blows. If its windy attacking players who hit balls close to the lines are also at a disadvantage. Federer is one player who has little margin for error hence his aptitude for playing indoors. Mental strength in accepting what the weather or indoor conditions present is another factor in separating the champions from the average players who lack consistency.

Head-To-Heads

A relevant factor in analysing a tennis match is head-to-head data. Many websites record results of previous matches between two players by season and surface. There could be changes over time as either player focuses on improving his game for a specific surface. Players who have been on the circuit for a number of years will have a extensive record of results against contempories. The older the stats the less relevant and only taking recent head-to-head records is more useful than taking into account the full history of a meeting. Many things can change over the course of a season and career and closer records are less relevant. Players who are unbeaten against an opponent over recent seasons are more likely to improve that record in the short term.

Head-to-head records can be useful in identifying trends against a certain type of player. Some individuals might always struggle against a big server and do better against more strategic players. All these comparisons can be done by career and surface due to the amount of free information online. Tennis bettors have never had better information to assess when deciding whether to back or oppose a player. Bookmakers can look at the same sites so interpretation is important in determining whether a tennis bettor can win money over a sustained period of time. There are many strands to performance in sport as in other walks of life. Some factors are intangible while others can be quantified. In depth research and gleaning relevant information is important when betting on tennis.

Key Match Statistics

In analysing a tennis match for betting purposes referring to the list of key statistics can be useful. There is a great deal of information to assess and with many matches being played each day its best to focus on one tournament or matches involving seeds. Betting opportunities can be filtered by gender, surface and level of tournament. Tennis lends itself to statistical analysis and there is a great deal of information online that can be read without a fee. Tournament websites are good sources and the following categories and skill’s areas were taken from the official Wimbledon website during the championships.

These statistics are available during a match and once it has been completed and for matches in all events. Key statistics are most useful for singles matches and those listed here are available for both players and can be used for comparison and making betting decisions:

Match Statistics

  • Aces
  • Double Faults
  • First serve % in
  • Win % on 1st serve
  • Win % on 2nd serve
  • Net points won
  • Break points won
  • Receiving points won
  • Winners
  • Unforced errors
  • Total points won
  • Distance covered

Serve Statistics

  • Aces
  • Service winners
  • Double faults
  • Total points
  • Total points won
  • Service games
  • Average serve speed
  • Fastest serve speed

Return Statistics

  • Return winners
  • Return unforced errors
  • Return points
  • Return points won

Rally Statistics

  • Approach shots
  • Drop shots
  • Ground strokes
  • Lobs
  • Overhead strokes
  • Passing shots
  • Volleys

It must be pointed out that match statistics are useful but do not tell the full story. Other factors such as motivation, weather and injuries must be considered when deciding whether to place a bet and which player to back. There is a mental element to sport and tennis requires a strong character. External influences could play a part and something as trivial as a row with a partner or family member could be a distraction. All the statistics in the world won’t reveal a player’s state of mind and that is one of the challenges of betting profitability when the human condition is involved.

Key Career Statistics

Overall career statistics add to the bank of information when comparing players and whether they should be backed or opposed in a match.  The following information is available for all ranked players and provides an insight into surface preferences and progress up or down the rankings:

  • Name
  • Country
  • Date of birth
  • Age
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Hand
  • Bet rating for 52 weeks
  • Bet rating for 4 weeks
  • Win/loss records by surface: hard, indoor hard, clay, indoor clay, grass and carpet.

Historical results can be analysed by surface, rounds and date range. Head-to-head records include the following details:

  • Player 1
  • Player 2
  • Year
  • Round
  • Tournament
  • Surface
  • Winner
  • Loser
  • Score
  • Pre-match odds

The following match statistics are the most useful and are a smaller version of the match statistics listed above:

  • First serve %
  • Aces
  • Double faults
  • First serve points won
  • First serve points won
  • Fastest serve
  • Average speed of first serve
  • Average speed of second serve
  • Break points won
  • Return points won
  • Unforced errors
  • Winners
  • Total points won

There is a saying in the UK of stats, more stats and lies that means statistics can be interpreted to present a particular point of view. In sport and tennis in particular statistics are relevant and useful when betting on the sport.

Useful Websites

Here is a list of some useful websites that provide odds and information for tennis betting:

Tours

www.atpworldtour.com/
www.wtatennis.com/

Grand Slams

event.ausopen.com/
www.rolandgarros.com/en_FR/index.html
www.wimbledon.com/index.html
www.usopen.org/index.html

News

www.sportinglife.com/tennis
www.skysports.com/tennis

Closing Comments

Tennis is a sport suited to betting both before a match begins and in-play. There is a whole raft of factors to be considered when deciding to back or oppose a player. Odds comparison sides compare tennis odds from all the major online sportsbooks. The scoring system in tennis lends itself to betting. The main tours begin in January and end in November so there is virtually all year round coverage. Statistics provide an insight to player’s ability to win on different surfaces. Price fluctuations and the scope for spot-betting provides sports bettors with trading opportunities and regular and often bets. Live television coverage and live streaming means many matches can be watched and seeing events take place live encourages betting. Matches are played all around the world in different time zones which means there is virtually 24 hour coverage. If security issues are dealt and the sport is seen to have integrity the growth in tennis betting can continue.

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