A Complete Guide to Tennis Betting Rules and Player Retirements

Every year, the state of Nevada processes over $5 billion in sports bets. The vast majority of this is wagered on the NFL, NBA, and MLB, but Americans and international tourists wager on all types of sports, including tennis.

Tennis bets increase during the summer, when two of its biggest tournaments are played: Wimbledon and the US Open. The vast majority of tennis fans only watch the four Grand Slam tournaments (of which Wimbledon and the US Open are the biggest) and have only a passing interest in other competitive events. As a result, the bulk of the money that is wagered on tennis focuses on these tournaments. In this tennis betting guide, we’ll walk you through the process of betting on these events and similar tournaments. By the end of this guide, you’ll know how to bet on tennis pre-match and in-play and will be ready for the next big summer event!
If you are an expert punter, you should also check out our tennis betting guide, where you can find things to check to make sure you please the right bet.

Tennis Betting Rules

When it comes to tennis betting, it is not only about knowing the players, for instance, who is good on red clay and who is not..
There are also a number of rules to consider when betting on tennis, and these vary from market to market and site to site. We have listed some of the most common tennis betting rules below.

Player Retirement Rules

You place a big bet on a player, they get injured after winning a few points, and their opponent advances to the next round.

Now what?

It depends on the tennis betting rules employed by your chosen bookmaker. Most of them use something known as “Ball Served”, whereby the match, and all corresponding bets, are active from the moment the first ball is served.

If the opponent serves the ball, scores an ace, and your player is injured in the process, it’s hard luck and you have just lost your bet.

The same is true for winning bets, however. If you bet on the other player—your bet will be a success.

Other tennis betting rules include:

  • One Set: At least 1 set needs to be completed (this one is becoming the standard in my opinion).
  • Two Sets: At least 2 sets need to be completed.
  • Match: The full match must be completed.

In-Play Tennis Betting Rules

Most of the previous bets are available pre-match and in-play, but what’s the difference?

In simple terms, a pre-match bet is one that you place before the contest has begun while an in-play bet is placed during the action.

But it’s a little more complicated than that.

In-play bets have the following features that rarely or never feature on pre-match bets:

  • All bets are subject to a waiting period and will be suspended if any major match events occur in that time.
  • In-play betting markets are suspended when anything major happens, such as a point being scored.
  • In-play bets focus on specific games and sets, allowing you to bet on outcomes that will be settled within seconds.

In-play bets, like pre-match bets, are available during single games and entire tournaments.

Tiebreak Rules

Tiebreak rules are fairly straightforward. Unlike games of football and basketball, where Overtime isn’t always accepted by default, Tiebreaks are always factored into the equation with tennis betting.

If the match is settled by a Match Tiebreak, that will often be classed as an additional set. Any points scored during a Tiebreak will also be added to any Totals bets (see below for more info on Set Betting and Totals).

Moneyline Rules

The Moneyline is one of the most common betting markets and it’s also the easiest to follow. You have two options to choose from: Player A and Player B. Pick your winner, get paid if they win, and lose out if they don’t.

That’s all there is to it, and unless there is a player retirement (in which case the above tennis betting rules apply) it’s as straightforward as tennis betting gets

Typically, Moneyline bets allow for the possibility of a draw, as is the case with soccer and boxing. When there is no such outcome, it often creates a major odds imbalance, as seen with basketball, football, and many other team sports.

The same is true for tennis, but it depends on the players and the event. If you’re betting on a world champion to beat an unseeded player in the early rounds of an Open, the odds probably won’t be worth it. If you’re betting on two in-form players in the final, it’s a different story entirely.

The following examples are taken from similar scenarios to those outlined above and use real odds listed at the time of writing.

  • World Champion = -4000 (bet $4,000 to win $100)
  • Unseeded Player = +950 (bet $100 to win $950)
  • Finalist A = -120 (bet $120 to win $100)
  • Finalist B = +120 (bet $120 to win $100)

Set Betting and Set Score Rules

You want to bet on the early rounds of the US Open, but your favorite player is facing an unseeded semi-pro, what do you do? As noted above, the odds aren’t very enticing in such situations, as no one wants to risk $4,000 for the sake of a $100 profit.

That’s where the Set Betting comes into play.

In this scenario, you can bet that the favorite will win by clear sets. It’s still the expected outcome, so it won’t make a massive difference, but it will help to make the odds a little more agreeable.

After all, the chances of that unseeded player winning the match are very slim, but there’s a much greater chance that they will steal a set, and the odds account for this.

You can also bet on the score of those sets and there are usually grouping bets available. For instance, you could bet that they will win 6-0 and 6-0 or that they will lose less than 2 games during the match.

By adding more possibilities like this, you can generally find more balanced odds without deviating too much from the anticipated outcome.

Totals Rules

How many games will be played during the course of the match, how many sets will there be, and how many points will be scored? These are the sort of questions you need to answer when betting on tennis totals.

Your options are usually split between “Over” and “Under” and are generally quite easy to follow. Many sites use a 0.5 score to ensure there is no Push. For instance, they may quote “Over/Under 2.5 Sets”, so that 2 sets is the Under and 3 sets is the Over.


Future bets are settled over the long-term and refer to entire tournaments as opposed to single matches. For instance, if the US Open is just around the corner and you think that a certain player will have a great chance of winning, you can bet on them to claim the title and secure a sizeable return when they do.

The great thing about Futures is that the odds are usually much more favorable as there are many more variables.

You won’t be offered much on a Moneyline bet featuring a top-ranked player, but the odds of them winning the tournament could be several times greater.

For instance, at the time of writing, the 2nd favorite for the upcoming men’s Wimbledon title is priced at a very generous +600, even though you will struggle to get anywhere near +200 for their games leading up to the final.

Futures also give you a chance to secure a huge return by betting on the dark horses. It’s rare for low-ranked players to win big Grand Slam titles, but it’s not impossible and has happened many times in the past. If you’re fortunate enough to have a bet on one of these players, you could benefit from huge winning odds in excess of +4000.

Parlay Betting

We mentioned that Set Betting is a great way to get more value out of a bet with very low odds, but it’s not the only way. If you add that bet to another one, and another, and another…you could boost the odds significantly.

A Parlay bet is one that combines multiple different bets and boosts the overall odds. You need all of them to win for the bet to be a success, but you can usually count on a big payout if they do.

As an example, if you place a single bet on odds of -500, you’ll get a profit of just $20 on a $100 bet. If you combine it with four other bets that have the same odds, you’ll get a total profit of $148.83. That’s a massive difference!

Of course, the risk also increases significantly, so it’s a bet that you need to approach with caution.

Tennis Betting Rules FAQs

Still have a few questions about betting on tennis?
Take a look at the following FAQs.

What are the Best Tennis Bets?

It depends on what sort of player you are. In terms of value, Futures are often the best, but that only applies if you know what you’re doing and have tracked the in-form players. It also assumes that you are patient enough to wait for the entire tournament to finish before your bet is settled.

If you have the knowledge but not the patience, take a look at Parlay bets instead, as you can combine multiple winning possibilities to create some huge odds.

In reality, the best bet is the one that you want to place and the one that you think will offer you the highest return. If you think that Player A is a dead-cert to win, even though the bookmakers seem to disagree, then that’s the best bet for you.

Where Can I Find Tennis Betting Tips?

Betzcenter offers a wealth of top tennis betting tips, giving you some insights into the most promising betting options available right now. Take a peek at our Open Picks Page for more information.

What Tournaments are the Best for Tennis Betting?

We said that many bettors and fans focus on the US Open and Wimbledon and tend to ignore everything else. It’s good to watch other events and consume as much of this great sport as possible, but let’s be honest, these are the most popular tournaments for a reason.

Wimbledon in particular has created some huge shocks over the years and provided bettors with numerous possibilities as a result. It’s the tournament that defined the dominance of Roger Federer, as well as the one that saw him announce himself on the world stage with a shock 2001 victory against the heavily-favorited Sampras.

We’ve seen multiple top seeds fall at the first hurdles and have witnessed many outsiders run deep. The US Open offers similar possibilities and the fact that these events have more media coverage creates a truly global spectacle with the sense that anything can happen.

Where Can I Bet on Tennis?

Take a look at our list of bookmakers to discover the very best tennis betting sites available right now. My favorites, at the moment are Pinnacle and Betfair. These two are great especially if you bet big (Pinnacle.com) and if you like in play betting on the moneyline (the exchange site at Betfair.com).

All of these betting sites are fully licensed and offer a wealth of tennis betting markets while also covering a variety of other top sports.

Summary: Tennis Betting Rules

Now that you know how to bet on tennis and understand all tennis betting rules, there’s only one thing left to do: Get out there and place some wagers! And if you’re eagerly awaiting the next big tournament and the summer is a long way away, browse through the many other events that take place around the world every year.

Wimbledon is great, the US Open is brilliant, but there’s much more to tennis than these two Grand Slams. The Australian and French Open are just as competitive; the BNP Paribas Open has one of the best locations of any tournament; the ATP is one of Europe’s best, and the WTA is home to the best female players in the world.

So, check the schedule, watch the events, keep an eye on the rules, and bet on tennis all year long!

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