For a number of reasons, tennis is a great sport to wager on. Being an individual sport makes it very unique from most sports, with its own set of challenges and benefits for handicappers. If a player goes down, there’s nobody to replace them. Slight injuries, problems in personal lives, fitness levels, coaching changes, and even racket sponsorship changes can make a huge impact on the result of a tennis match. Personally, I get more satisfaction from researching and betting on tennis than any other sport.
Another great aspect to tennis betting is that it’s nearly a year-long sport. The off-season is very short, and tournaments run every week during the season. With multiple matches every day, it’s not difficult to find valuable lines.
Tennis is another one of those sports where a wide range of odds can be found. Just when you think you’ve found the best line, another betting site is offering something better. If you aren’t shopping around, you’re losing money. So, if you take your tennis betting seriously, register at several betting sites online and get the best prices you can find.
How To Bet On Tennis Online
Of course the most popular way to bet on tennis is by picking the winners of each match. A lot of handicappers also like to bet on the tournament winner, and a variety of prop bets as well.
Depending on the tournament and the betting site, the betting options will be very different. During the Grand Slam events, most sites expand their betting options.
Straight Bets on Match Winners
Straight bets, on individual matches are the most common type of tennis bet. Pick your winner, pick the wager amount, and hope your player wins. It’s that simple.
Serious handicappers always need to shop for the best odds. I repeat this over and over for a really good reason – because it’s the most critical part of sports betting. The importance of this is most emphasized in sports where a lot of competitors are involved, like tennis, golf, and auto racing.
While there are only two tennis players in an individual singles match, there are a lot of players in a tournament. Every odds maker has their own idea of how a match should be handicapped, and based on the number of sharps (smart bettors) at each betting site, the odds can vary greatly.
Betting On Tennis Tournament Winners
While it can be much harder to predict the winner of an entire tournament, the odds are much better than they are for individual matches. For non-Grand Slam events, most online betting sites start offering these bets a few days before a tournament begins. Depending on the site, some will continue them during the tournament, sometimes up until the semi-finals. Some cut them off in earlier rounds, but every bookmaker is different.
For the Grand Slam events, many sports betting sites offer these bets, called futures bets, months in advance. The further out you place a bet like this, the greater the odds tend to be. However, it’s very difficult to predict who will wins these tournaments until it’s very close and we can see how everyone is playing at that time. We recommend making these bets no more than 2 weeks before a tournament.
At most sports betting sites, if the player you’ve bet on doesn’t enter the draw, your bets will be refunded. If you’ve placed at a site that will not return your bet, withdraw your money, close your account, and never bet there again.
ATP & WTA Tennis Prop Bets
Prop bets are essentially bets that don’t fall into any of the standard betting categories. These tend to be more fun & varied types of bets designed for the casual punter. Since most online sports betting sites take a larger vig (juice) on prop bets, we always recommend that you compare lines at several sites.
Typical tennis prop bets include:
- Who will win the first set?
- Will the match go 3 sets (WTA) or 5 sets (ATP)?
- Over/under on how many aces a player will accrue during a match.
Parlay Betting On Tennis
A parlay bet is a wager where multiple winners are selected and put onto a single betting ticket. For example, if you like Nadal over his no-name opponent and Novak Djokovic over his journeyman competitor, you could put them onto one bet, greatly increasing the odds you’ll get. The downside is that both players must win, otherwise the entire ticket is lost. Most betting sites allow handicappers to parlay at least 8 players, and some go as high as 20+ per ticket.
In general terms, we recommend keeping your parlay bets down to a maximum of 4-5 players per ticket (2-3 is even better). While the odds greatly increase with each player added to a ticket, so do the odds that your bet will lose. Instead of going after massive wins on unrealistic bets, take home a lot of smaller wins. If you have four big favorites you want to bet on, splitting them into 2 parlays of two players will give you a much better shot at winning at least one of them. Depending on the odds, you’ll often make an overall profit with one losing parlay and one winning parlay.
When betting on heavy favorites in tennis, a lot of punters like to add a slight underdog to it (one that they think will win). When adding the odds of a slight underdog to a parlay, the odds increase greatly. Many handicappers see this as one match that has to win, with a gimme. While there are no gimme’s in tennis, the top players in the world often roll through the initial rounds of a tournament. So, by doing this, they’re essentially betting on the underdog, adding a heavy favorite simply to create a parlay bet with a decent chance to win.
For example, let’s say you can get 8/5 (2.6) on your underdog. A $50 bet would return a profit of $80 on a straight bet. However if you add a heavy favorite at 1/4 (1.25), your profit will be $113. That’s 29% more profit by adding a player who theoretically should win an easy match.
Parlay bets can be mixed as well. For example, if you’d like to place a bet on Manchester United, and another on Kim Clijsters, these bets can be combined onto a parlay ticket.
Grand Slam Tennis Betting
The Grand Slam consists of the following four tournaments:
- Australian Open (Hard Court)
- French Open (Clay Court)
- Wimbledon (Grass Court)
- U.S. Open (Hard Court)
While there are other big tournaments during the year, the Grand Slams generate the most betting interest. Online sports betting sites offer more prop bets for these tournaments than any others, and many of them feature live betting as well. While a lot of smaller tournaments aren’t televised, the Grand Slams are televised all over the world. This also increases traffic to online betting sites.
When betting on the Grand Slams, you have to consider that this is where the top players make their names. Many of them have spent the weeks prior tuning up and trying to peak for these events, so even if they haven’t recorded top results in smaller tournaments leading up to them, that doesn’t always mean much.
ATP & WTA Tennis Online Betting Tips
Pay attention to court surfaces. Some players are better on clay than they are on hard courts. Some are better on grass than on clay. Before placing your bets, find out the court surface and compare player stats on that surface.
Pay attention to tennis. As an individual sport, little things make a big difference. If a player is in their first tournament after 6 months of rehabbing a knee surgery, wouldn’t you want to know this before you’ve placed your bet and you’re hearing it from an announcer during the match? Keep up to date and Google ‘player name year injury’, like Rafael Nadal 2011 injury. If Rafa is recovering from a back injury, you’ll find out.
Good results from recent tournaments tell you more than poor results. Poor results can come from a variety of factors that may not have an impact on the current tournament. However, good results in recent tournaments at least tell you that a player is playing well right now. As long as nothing significant has happened to a player since their recent tournaments, it’s easier to bank on this player doing well than it is to bank on another player doing poorly. Of course, if a player has completely dropped off the map, then clearly that needs to be considered as well. However, a recent quarterfinal loss to the #10 player in the world wouldn’t necessarily indicate that Federer is going to lose today.
Shop, shop, and shop for the best tennis betting odds. If you’re placing a lot of tennis bets, it’s absolutely critical that you get the best odds on every wager. Don’t ever say to yourself “those odds look good” and just accept them. Serious handicappers should shop a minimum of 5 betting sites before placing any bets.
Compare head-to-head matchup stats. It’s not uncommon to find a higher seed listed as an underdog to a lower seed. If you don’t already know of a reason for this, the first thing to check is the head-to-head stats. Current stats can be found at the ATP and WTA tennis sites.
Check the weather and fitness of each player. Remember, you’re looking for every edge you can get, and hot weather can often have a dramatic impact on the result of a tennis match. If it’s going to be a particularly hot day and one player has been out for a while, or is known for poor fitness, it will have some effect in the later stages of the match. Since the men play the best of five sets, this tends to make a larger impact on the men than the women, but it should always be considered.
Historically, there have been a lot of players who’ve been known for their superior fitness, and purposely drawing out points to wear down their opponents later in the match. If you know your opponent will wear down in the heat, it makes sense to play more passively to get the ball back and run your opponent all over the court. This is commonplace in tennis, so shouldn’t you be considering it when you place your bets?
As always, never bet with your heart. Do your research, and make smart bets – even if it means betting against your favorite players.