Betting on tennis: Pre-game markets

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One of the most popular sports to bet on, for a variety of reasons, is tennis. With matches taking place almost daily and a number of betting markets available, not to mention the elimination of the ‘draw’ from the match result, tennis has long been a favourite of professional and amateur bettors alike. With the end-of-season ATP World Tour Finals currently taking place in London, here is a quick look at some of the more common, and not-so-common, markets available to aspiring tennis bettors, using Thursday’s match between Novak Djokovic and Gael Monfils as an example.


Nearly all bookmakers offer punters the pre-game option of betting on the set result. As the World Tours Finals are a best-of-three set event, the options available are just 2-0 or 2-1 in favour of each player. Typically, over/unders are also offered on the total sets in the match (in the case of Djokovic V Monfils, Under 2.5 sets is 1.53 and Over 2.5 is 2.37). In addition to total sets, punters can place a bet on who will win the first set, and can also place a bet on a double result, usually entailing a player to win, or lose, the first set, and ultimately claim the match, or of course vice versa. Bookmakers will also often offer odds on the exact score of the first set, which is a much riskier option.


The games market is immensely popular among professional bettors in that it factors in the relative strength of serve and service return. Quite simply, strong servers are far less likely to be ‘broken,’ and thus finely researched wagers can offer attractive returns. Punters can place a two-way over/under bet on the total number of games (for example, over 22.5). In addition, three-way wagers are also given on a games total, thus giving a range of options (for example, under 21, between 21 and 23, and over 23). Both two-way and three-way handicaps may be offered on the match winner in terms of the total number of games won (bearing in mind a player in tennis can win more games than his opponent and still lose the match).

Tie break

With the tie break a common occurrence in men’s tennis in particular, simple pre-game tie break markets are often offered by larger bookmakers. These markets will usually consist of a tie break in the first set (‘yes’ or ‘no’) and a tiebreak in the match (‘yes’ or ‘no’). In the Djokovic V Monfils match, the odds offered are as follows;

Tie break in the match

Yes – 2.10, No – 1.66

Tie break in the first set

Yes – 3.50, No – 1.28

Tipster Services

With the exception of the exact set score and tie break markets, all of the other betting options are favoured by the tipsters on Quite simply, Tipsters will make selections on events that can be thoroughly researched, statistically analysed, and made as risk-free as possible. Although other markets are there to be considered for interest purposes, following the lead of professional tipsters is the only sensible path to long-term betting success.

Match Odds

Novak Djokovic V Gael Monfils

ATP World Tour Finals, London

Thursday 17/11/16 at 14:00

 Djokovic 1.14, Monfils 5.50

All odds courtesy of bet365 and correct as of 16:00 GMT on 16/11/16

Steve Paget