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Betting on Tennis

TennisTennis certainly isn’t among the very most popular sports in the United States, but it’s fan base is far greater in other parts of the world. As a result, tennis is actually one of the most popular sports on which to bet on the planet.

The continued expansion of Internet gambling has helped the industry considerably. Billions of dollars are bet on the sport on an annual basis, with most of the money understandably coming in on the four Grand Slam events.

Wimbledon, the Australian Open, the French Open and the U.S. Open are the primary events for both the men’s and women’s game.

The Australian Open takes place every January, with the other three events taking place in the summer months. Wimbledon, which goes down every July, is typically thought of as the world’s most prestigious tennis tournament.

Familiarizing yourself with the intricacies of the sport and tendencies of the players is crucial.

Popularity

While there have historically been several world class American tennis players, there haven’t been many new faces to hit the scene in recent years. Serena Williams is the most decorated female player in the history of the sport, but she’s not exactly a new name. Most of the men ranked in the top-35 nowadays aren’t household names.

Plenty of that has to do with the array of options young athletes have in the United States. Careers in other sports such as basketball, baseball and football are more lucrative, and it’s understandable why many opt to go that route rather than pursuing a career in tennis.

That’s not the case everywhere. Tennis is king in certain countries the way football reigns supreme in the USA. The Czech Republic, France, Switzerland, Spain and Serbia have been churning out top-class tennis talent for years now. America has fallen behind in that regard.

However, plenty of American eyeballs will still tune in for the Grand Slam events, especially the finals. Despite the 2017 men’s Australian Open final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal starting at 3:00am Eastern Time, ESPN reported that the event drew a 0.9 rating. While that doesn’t sound like a huge number, it’s a massive tally for that early-morning time slot. It marked a ratings increase of 80 percent over the ’16 final.

The women’s final saw a 17 percent ratings increase in the USA, as well. It certainly didn’t help that four big names participated. Federer and Nadal is the longest men’s rivalry going these days, while the women’s final featured American sisters Serena and Venus Williams.

The time slots were more favorable for Europeans, and, as a result, viewership numbers were even higher. As many as 11 million people tuned in for the men’s final across Europe on Eurosport’s coverage. 1.3 million Spaniards tuned in, and 4.4 million in Australia watched the match, as well. The Australia number doubled the 2016 number.

The 2017 Australian Open also set an attendance record with 728,763 attending the event over the course of the two weeks. It’s safe to say tennis isn’t lacking popularity on a worldwide scale.

Betting Factors

Rafael Nadal is notoriously dominant on clay surfaces, but tends to be vulnerable on grass courts or hard courts. Plenty of other players enjoy the unique nature of the grass surface, and those are the ones you likely should be betting on if you are planning on placing a wager on a Wimbledon match. Knowing the court surface is the first thing you should know when deciding whether to bet on a tennis match.

Different court surfaces breed different results. Players with a strong serve tend to fare well on the fast grass surface. Others use agility to their advantage better on the slick clay surface. The hard court is the most common surface, with both the Australian and U.S. Opens using hard courts. Wimbledon is a grass court, while the French Open uses clay.

Weather also matters quite a bit in tennis. They obviously don’t play matches in the rain or snow, but particularly hot conditions can certainly have adverse effects on various players. Some fare well in heat, some wilt in it.

Head-to-head history is also noteworthy. If two players have squared off quite a bit in the past, that’s a pretty good indicator of future performance. That can’t be said about most sports, but head-to-head record means something in tennis. Certain players’ strengths just don’t match up with others.

Taking note of the days of rest in between matches for a player at a given tournament is also important. Obviously, the more rest a player has, the more likely they are to perform well in the future. Injury histories and players on the comeback trail from injury are also meaningful aspects to consider as a bettor.

Popular Ways to Bet on Tennis

Tournament/Outright Winner

The concept here is simple: you just bet on the player you expect to win a given tournament. You can bet on men’s/women’s singles or doubles. Additionally, some books will offer the chance to bet “for a place,” which means you can place a wager at a third of the odds on a certain player simply making it to the finals. Even if that player doesn’t win, you stand to profit.

Match Winner

Here, you’re betting on which player wins a given match. Obviously, the player(s) expected to win will have lower odds than the underdog. While underdogs pull upsets in major tournaments from time-to-time, it’s not something that happens very often. As a result, betting on an underdog to beat someone like Serena Williams is likely a losing bet, even with favorable profit potential.

Total Sets and/or Games

Other sports give you an implied total for the number of points both teams will combine to score in a given game. In tennis, it’s a little different. Most men’s matches are a best-of-five sets format, while women typically play a best-of-three. So, the outcome of a men’s match will be 3-0, 3-1 or 3-2. For women, it’ll be 2-0 or 2-1.

If players are fairly evenly-matched, betting on the maximum number of sets is probably the play. If it’s expected to be one-sided, you should probably take the under.

First Set Winner

Most books will offer you a chance to bet on the winner of the first set. While this often serves as a harbinger of which player will go on to win the match, that’s not always the case. The first set tends to be the most evenly-matched of any match considering both players are physically fresh. A favorite that loses his or her focus could easily drop the first set before rallying to win, which makes predicting the winner of a match’s initial set tougher than you may think.

Live Bets

Live betting has become more and more popular over the years. Not everyone offers live betting on tennis, but it’s available in certain spots.

There may not be as wide a range of outcomes as live betting on a sport like football or basketball, but there is still a lot out there. Which player will win the next game? Which will win the next set? Will the next point come via an ace?

If a player has the tendency to play down to his or her opponent and drop a few games over the course of a match, you can surely get decent odds on the opponent to win a given game or even a set.

You can bet on whether a set or a match will result in a tiebreak. You can bet on the correct score after a given number of games during a match. If you think a match will be particularly lopsided, you can place a bet on a player not winning even one set.

Betting Limits

While Bovada offers massive limits on bets for football, basketball and other sports, there doesn’t seem to be nearly as much action on tennis. The limit on a head-to-head tennis bet is set at just $500, as is the case with futures bets. The max bet on a tennis prop is set at $300.

BetOnline gives you the chance to risk more. You can bet up to $1,500 on the moneyline for singles matches, and $500 on doubles. The mark is set at $1,000 for both men’s and women’s totals, as well.

Best Places for Tennis Bets

Surprise, surprise, if you want to bet on tennis in the United States, Bovada is likely your best bet. Bovada covers every aspect of a host of sports, and tennis is no exception. You can find props and all sorts of other match options here. BetOnline and TopBet are a couple of other sites to consider if you’re in the tennis betting market.

The usual suspects offer tennis betting options elsewhere in the world (BetWay, bet365, etc.), but you can also find plenty of lines at NetBet, LeoVegas and 888sport. Tennis betting options are particularly plentiful overseas, so be sure to shop around and find a site that offers the best combination of value, lines and bonuses that fit what you’re looking for as a bettor.

Conclusion

While tennis betting is particularly popular in Europe, there’s a certain edge to be found if you’re interested in getting in on the action in North America. The market isn’t nearly as robust as it is overseas, but there is still no shortage of action to be found at a variety of sportsbooks. The surge in popularity of live betting has added an entirely new wrinkle, as well.