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Tennis is great for Betfair customers as it takes place over 11 months of the year,
which means fantastic opportunities for betting or trading as little or often as you
Starting in Australia in January, the final tournaments of the year end in November,
giving players December off before they start all over again.
Tennis is split by gender into the ATP (Association of Tour Professionals for men)
and the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association for women).
Tennis is mostly in a ‘knock out’ format, the exception being the end of season
ATP and WTA champions finals, which use a ‘round robin’ format.
The men’s game is predominately played over the best of three sets, apart from
Davis Cup and Grand Slam events, which are played over the best of five sets.
The women’s game is always played over the best of three sets.
Tournaments are normally split into categories giving all levels of professional
players the chance to win.
The top level tournaments are the Grand Slams.
Head to
There are four annual Grand Slam events on the professional circuit. These
tournaments are played by both men and women.
The four events are: The Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon and the
US Open.
Grand Slams are the most prestigious tennis tournaments in the world and
therefore carry the most liquidity on Betfair.
The tournaments are played in the same locations every year and you should
note the times matches take place. For example, in the Australian open and the
US Open most matches are played late in the evening or very early morning in
the UK.
There’s an abundance of statistics available for these tournaments as they’ve
been played for many years. Researching these well can often lead to great value
If you are trading on Grand Slams remember that women play over three sets; the
men play the best of five set matches. Also, remember only the US Open uses a
final set tie-breaker rule. The other three majors do not have final set tie-breaks.
Tennis has a unique scoring system that means a player could win more games
and more points than their opponent yet still lose the match.
Remember the World Record longest ever match at Wimbledon in June 2010
between Isner and Mahut? The match ended 6-4, 3-6, 6-7(7), 7-6(3), 70-68.
Mahut won 502 points to Isner’s 478, yet lost the match.
Also the 2009 Wimbledon final with Roger Federer v Andy Roddick finished 5-7,
7-6(6), 7-6(5), 3-6, 16-14. Roddick won 39 games against Federer’s 38 yet
Federer won 3-2 in sets.
As well as understanding the scoring, watch how the server changes with every
game and how the players change ends every two games or six points in a tiebreaker. Both of these can have a huge impact on when to get involved and get
out of trades. For example at one end of the court, the players could have been
struggling to hold serve due to the sun in their eyes or maybe wind against them.
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One of the most important elements of tennis is the surface the game is played
Clay courts are considered “slow”, because the ball bounces relatively high and
slower, making it more difficult for a player to hit an un-returnable shot. Rallies are
usually longer as there are fewer winners hit. Clay courts tend to favour players
who play behind the baseline and are more defensive.
However, offensive baseliners with powerful ground strokes have also found
success on clay. It’s the unique nature of this surface and style of play which has
allowed players such as Rafael Nadal to win consistently.
Clay courts are more common in Europe and South America than in the USA. It’s
rare to see North Americans winning tournaments on this surface
Grass Courts are also considered specialist, as there are only a few tournaments
played on them. The most famous of them all being Wimbledon.
Grass courts tend to be slippery; the ball can often skid and bounce low, rarely
rising above knee height. In addition, there are often bad bounces.
As a result, players must reach the ball faster relative to other surfaces, and rallies
are likely to be comparatively brief. Speed and power is rewarded on grass, big
servers can often go deep into the tournament at Wimbledon.
Hard courts are fast and you don’t tend to get long rallies. The bounce is very
consistent and therefore players are likely to go for more winners.
There are different types of hard court. In the Australian Open they use a surface
known as Plexicushion. In the US Open they use DecoTurf, a fairly slick form of
hard court.
Because tennis tournaments are formed by seeding, the better players also
receive byes in the early rounds. The top two players can’t meet until the final and
the top four until the semi-finals.
You can often find value in tournament markets by identifying who is likely to be
playing who in the later rounds. You can also identify potential problem games for
the top seeded players on their route to the quarter or semi-finals.
There could be opportunities in some of the more obscure markets on offer, like
‘who will win a particular quarter of a tournament’, or ‘top four seeds to reach
the semi-finals’.
Check your stats and see how often the top four make it to the semi-final
stages. Often one of the four may not perform on that particular surface or they
may have to beat one or two surface specialists to get there. Laying these top
players in these less obvious markets can often be high reward for little risk.
Another good market in Grand Slam events is ‘to reach the final’. The favourites
will be the number one and two seeds; you can often get a decent price on this
and you can monitor the progress of your selection through the tournament.
Head to
These players rarely give up sets, let alone matches, in the early rounds. If they
do happen to lose the first set they’ll still be trading at very short odds to lay,
should you wish to insure your “reach the final” stakes.
• Make sure you know whether the match is the best of five sets, or the
best of three sets.
• Often tennis traders find themselves in trouble due to retirements. You
should get a good understanding of the rules on Betfair around this. On Betfair
unless the first set is completed then ALL bets are void in the Match Odds market.
In the set betting ALL bets are void if the match is not completed. So if you’re
trading set betting odds against match odds you need to be very conscious of
these rules.
•If a player loses the first set by a heavy scoreline (6-0 or 6-1) don’t
assume they’re going to lose the next set as easily. Once a player goes down
a couple of breaks they may decide to just allow that set to go, making their
opponent use as much energy as possible but conserving their own. It makes no
difference (scorewise) losing the first set 7-6 or 6-0 it is still only 1-0 in sets.
As with any sport on Betfair, research and analysis are key to getting your
trades more right than wrong. There are so many places now on the internet
where you can get excellent tennis information.
Betfair have their own website at This will give you all the
head-to-head information as well as recent games played. However, if you need
further information then the respective ATP ( and
WTA ( websites have player, tournament
stats and information.
There are so many ways to get involved in tennis. Here are just a couple of
techniques for individual matches, though of course there are many other markets
available on Betfair, such as tournament winners, individual games, number of
sets etc.
Being an individual sport there are lots of things that can influence the outcome
of a tennis match. A player’s temperament and mental strength can be as
important as tennis ability. You often hear people say a player can “choke”. In
tennis this means a player who struggles to finish a match when in a seemingly
winning position. They allow the pressure of the situation to get to them and,
all of a sudden, their serve has vanished and unforced errors start creeping in.
Identifying players like this can often reap good rewards on Betfair.
The way to play this strategy is to back the original favourite when they are
receiving serve. (When a player is serving there’s an element of their price that
assumes they will hold). The original favourite player must also now be the
underdog after losing the first set.
The negative price movements for a player holding serve is minimal but when a
player breaks serve the upside can be so much bigger. If the original favoured
player fails to break serve and you are involved in the match then you must red
out your position immediately and wait for the next opportunity to get involved.
If the original favoured player breaks, then the market will react and bring the
price down significantly, thinking the player will now go on and win the set.
This price movement is exaggerated far more the closer to the end of the set you
get. At this point you’ll be in a position of strength. Depending on your experience
and attitude to risk you can either use the profit to potentially accumulate, or
green out and move on to the next match.
Other things to look for are when a favourite loses the first set (remember all
women’s matches are for three sets only). VISUAL – Alan to record Camtasia.
For this strategy I look for certain entry criteria...
• Must be in-play match
• Must have over £100k before game starts
• Original favourites odds were between 1.3 – 1.8 (but also check
Remember, a player can lose a set 6-0 but can still be back on level terms
by winning the second set on a tie-breaker 6-7. They could be 12-7 down in
games but the important stat is 1-1 in sets. Because of this unique scoring
system, look for players who you want to back; players who were favourites
to win before the match. IF they’ve lost the first set then their price will have
drifted (regardless of what the first set score was – the more comprehensive
the defeat sometimes the better the odds).
Beware! You will suffer losses using this strategy if the original favourite doesn’t
manage to break their opponent’s serve. But providing you have the discipline to
red out over the long term you’ll see more winners than losers.
Another strategy I like to play is Laying a short Price Favourite
(See video at
Head to