Steve Mitchell, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Roger Federer
- Tennis may not be considered a mainstream sport in the United States, but it is a hugely popular sport among bettors.
- Here are the ways you can bet on tennis.
It may not be considered a mainstream sport in the United States, but tennis is wildly popular among bettors around the world.
That’s because the tennis calendar is set up in a way that there are matches being played almost every day. The ATP and WTA Tours travel around the world, so the matches are played at all different times — including during the workday in the U.S.
Another great thing about betting on tennis is that the sport’s governing bodies have made a lot of data and metrics publicly available. Tennis is considered to be one of the more progressive sports in that regard.
How to Bet on Tennis: Wager Types
The three most popular ways to bet on tennis are wagering on the moneyline, the game or set spread or the over/under.
Just like in baseball and hockey, the most popular way to bet on tennis is by playing the moneyline — which is another way of saying betting on a player to win the match.
Example: If Rafa Nadal is -120 on the moneyline against Roger Federer, that means you’d have to pay $120 to win $100 on a Nadal victory. If Federer is +110 in the same match, you’d win $110 on a $100 wager.
And just like you can bet the first five innings in baseball or the first period in hockey, you can do the same in tennis if you only want to bet the first set.
2. Game Spread
Another way to bet on tennis is to place a bet on the game or set spread. A lot of times tennis matches will feature big odds, so the spread is a way to level the playing field.
Example: If Novak Djokovic is a -1,100 favorite over Denis Istomin in a 3-set match, the game spread may be around -4.5. That means Djokovic would need to win five more games than Istomin in the match (6-2, 6-3) to cover the spread.
If Djokovic wins (6-4, 6-4) and you bet the +4.5 on Istomin, you win the bet.
3. Set Spread
This type of wager is basically the same set up as the game spread. The only difference is you are betting on sets instead of games.
Example: If Sloane Stephens is favored in her match over Monica Puig, she will also be available at -1.5 sets, much like the way an MLB favorite is always available at -1.5 runs on the run-line. If you bet on Stephens -1.5 sets and she wins in straight sets (6-3, 6-0) you win the bet. If Puig wins a set, you’d lose.
This is a wager on the total number of games played in a match.
Example: If Radu Albot and Fabio Fognini are playing a 3-set match, the Over/Under may be set at 22.5 games. If you think the match will be close and bet the over, you need the match to last for at least 23 games.
So if Albot wins (7-6, 6-4) that would mean the match consisted of 23 total games and you won your bet. Conversely, if the match ends (6-3, 7-6) you’d lose the wager because the match only went 22 games.
Other Tennis Wagering Types
In addition to the three most common types of tennis bets, there are other options available — depending on your location and the sports book you bet through.
As you would see in other sports, there is a futures market for tennis tournaments. They work the same way as futures odds for March Madness would work.
And for the four majors, you can even bet on futures for each quarter.
Example: If you bet Simona Halep -200 to win her quarter at the French Open, she would just need to make it to the semifinals to cash your bet.
6. Live Betting
Tennis is one of the most popular live betting markets in the world. Odds can change after every point so you have to be ready to pull the trigger before it’s too late. You can also bet who will win the next upcoming game. With all of the potential swings, it’s a great sport to trade — but only for the most experienced bettors.
Example: If Roger Federer is down 4-0 in the fifth set at Wimbledon, you can bet him +800 live. Then, if he comes back to even the match at four games apiece, you can then take his opponent +400 live, locking in a guaranteed profit.
Some books will even offer more exotic tennis props — such as bets on the exact score or whether or not there will be a tiebreak. These are high-risk wagers that are generally only available at larger tournaments — and only at certain books.