Betting on Tennis may seem like a specialist area but it is actually growing in popularity and already has a large following among professional gamblers. It may not get quite the same coverage as football but, rather like golf, it relies heavily on the major tournaments to attract interest.
The success of Andy Murray has helped to raise the profile of tennis as a betting medium in Europe and bookmakers now offer odds on a week-to-week basis throughout the season. Television coverage is another important factor and all of the significant events are covered by Sky and Eurosport. Twenty years ago, Wimbledon accounted for the majority of tennis betting in the UK but the US Open, French Open and Australian Open are now firmly established among the biggest events in the sporting calendar. In the US it is still ranked as one of the top sports, still behind NFL football and Basketball though, both in terms of betting and viewer interests.
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Tennis Betting Markets
Rather like football, long gone are the days when markets started and ended by picking the outright winner. The larger online bookmakers now provide a host of betting opportunities, not just on the major tournaments but on individual matches throughout the world.
Match Winner remains the most obvious market and there are handicap betting opportunities on all of the big tournaments. The biggest names in the sport will be at very short odds when they are up against less recognised players in the early rounds so you can bet on them to win without dropping a set.
The first set of a match also has a range of markets including total number of games and first set winner. The bookmaker will sometimes offer spread betting and you can go either over or under the predicted total. Professional tennis bettors prefer to know which player is serving first when betting on the first set markets as they regard this as a significant piece of information. There is also a price set on a first set tie break.
You can also bet on the margin of victory. For example, you may believe that Murray has a chance to beat Nadal but that it will probably go to five sets. Bookmakers will be happy to accommodate you with prices on all eventualities. You may be confident that a player will win a particular match but may be vulnerable in the opening set. You can bet on him to lose the opening set but win the match.
For the more adventurous, there is a market for predicting the total number of games in the match. You can bet on a line that the bookmaker sets by going over or under that figure. You can also wager on their being a set total of games within a certain bracket.
Tennis Betting Rules
The most contentious issue comes when a player suffers an injury and is forced to retire midway through a match. Each bookmaker may have their own ruling but they generally uphold the bet if the match has started. Others will refund all bets and declare the match void unless the first set has been completed. If you are in any doubt, check your bookmakers own terms and conditions.
Tennis Betting Strategy
The eventual outcome of the major tournaments is not that difficult to predict with the men’s game dominated by Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. Only Martin Del Potro at the US Open in 2009 has broken the dominance of the big four in the last eight seasons. Federer appears to finally be on the decline whilst Murray is has muscled his way into the reckoning with victories in the US Open and at Wimbledon. The bookmakers will not be giving much away in their outright market but there can sometimes be a small margin of profit to be gained by backing this elite group.
The top players do not compete in every tournament on the ATP tour so there is value to be had elsewhere. Similarly, the women’s WTA tour offers plenty of betting opportunities outside the major championships. If you are a keen tennis fan, you will know which players excel on different surfaces and can follow their progress from week-to-week. Just as there are bettors who specialise on golf, so there are avid tennis fans who believe that they can gain an edge over the bookmaker.
One of the most popular methods of tennis betting is the accumulator. With the top players often priced at prohibitive odds in the early rounds, punters prefer to link them up in trebles or upwards in the hope of achieving a profit from matches that they regard as a formality. Of course this isn’t always the case!
The advancement in technology and improved internet access has made live tennis betting more accessible. Psychology plays a big part in the game of tennis and you can sometimes pick up on signals that a player is tiring or has virtually thrown in the towel. Alternatively, you may feel that a player is still in contention despite dropping the first two sets. His or her body language may suggest that they only require a small opening to turn the match around. If you can latch on to this shift in momentum, then you have a chance of beating the odds.