Tennis, to most folk in the UK, is generally all about Wimbledon, and this rings true when it comes to betting. Bookmakers tend to take more money over the counter or online when Wimbledon is on than they do in the other three tennis majors combined.
But there is usually a tennis tournament happening somewhere in the world, all year round. We don’t recommend punting on them all though, and tend to stick to the majors or other main ATP events.
Betting on tennis matches in the larger tournaments can be quite exciting, especially if you decide to dive in on the betting exchanges or bookmaker websites while the actual matches are being played (betting in-play).
The early rounds of a large tournament often see the world’s best ranked against much lower opposition, and this can mean that the likes of Serena Williams will have odds-on bets as low as 1/20 before the match starts.
If one of those favourites has a hiccup and loses the first set then some value can start to creep into the betting, and the opportunities for trading bets on a site such as Betfair can be compelling, and very exciting. For example, if you lay Roger Federer on Betfair at decimal odds of 1.1 before the first serve is made, and he loses the first set then you might be able to back him to win the match at 2.0 if he starts the second set in an average manner, and that will mean you are guaranteed a profit whether he wins or loses the match, as long as you get your maths right (although the new Cash Out feature does the job for you now).
The early rounds do tend to go largely to script; you do get shocks as in any other sport but they don’t seem to be too frequent. To try and find value in these early matches means you have to start digging deep and doing your homework on the players. If you can pick up that a seeded player is carrying a back or arm injury into a tournament and playing against a lower player who can demonstrate winning early round matches then maybe you have found an underdog to back, so add him or her to your shortlist. Look for obvious signs such as strapping or athletic supports on a player’s body or watch out for any mention of recent illness or return from serious injury.
The surface of the tennis courts where the matches are being played is very important as some players do perform much better on clay rather than grass. The surface dictates the bounce of the ball, trajectory and speed after the ground is hit, and how well players can keep their footing if they have to move quickly to react. When considering your players to back then check how they have performed historically on the surface they will be playing on. Consider also the climate – e.g. the heat of Australia for the Australian Open might be too much for some of the players from colder climates. This is unlikely to affect the world’s best players as they will live and train in warmer countries, but lower ranked players may still play most of their tennis in cooler weather and may not adapt so well.
The early rounds are where your opportunities are for building a large accumulator, by picking seven, eight or more match results and bundling them together and hoping everything goes to plan like it usually does. Alternatively, as the competition progresses you might want to play around with a trixie or lucky 15 bet on three or four players that you think can go even further in the tournament.
If you are certain about a couple of matches where the odds give you some sort of value (i.e. around Evens) then you could use those to bulk up a sports accumulator where you add them in with a football match or two, and a horse, or other bets from other sports. You can read more about Sports Accumulators in our quick guide.
If you’re serious about your tennis betting or want to get started for the first time then your next stop should be to visit the websites we have linked to on the right hand side of this page as they will take your knowledge down to deeper levels and begin to give you a feel for what data is available. It is also worth searching online for tennis forums, or tennis betting forums (and there are plenty out there) to read around what other people think about forthcoming matches or the form of players.
If SW19 is your thing then please also have a read of our Wimbledon Betting Tips article.
Do make sure you investigate getting a Betfair account if you want to bet properly on tennis, as the most excitement comes from in-play bets. If you are unfamiliar with what Betfair is then our introduction to Betfair might be a useful quick read.