Tennis is one of the world’s most popular sports, with an estimated one billion fans watching tennis matches regularly. This sport is also very popular among bettors, although most focus only on the four most prominent events on the tennis calendar – Grand Slams.
These tournaments pit the world’s best players against one another, so the betting odds aren’t miles apart when the Moneyline market is concerned.
However, in other tournaments (ATP 250 tournaments, for instance), elite players often get to play lower-ranked players. This goes especially for early rounds. As a result, the odds on the favorite are usually too short for bettors’ taste. The good news is that there is a solution – doing tennis spread betting.
How Does Tennis Spread Betting Work?
To understand how tennis spread betting works, you need to know the basic rules of this sport. A player must win two sets (or three sets in Grand Slam tournaments) to win a match. To win a set, a player must win six games, with at least two games margin over the opponent.
Let’s say the WTA No. 1 Iga Swiatek is playing against a lower-ranked player like Emma Raducanu. If Swiatek is going to win, she can by winning 2-0 or 2-1 in sets. In this case, the set spread would be set to 1.5 sets – Swiatek would cover the spread only by winning in straight sets.
When it comes to games, however, there are many more variables. The biggest-possible win would be 6-0, 6-0, meaning that the spread can be anything from one game to 11.5 games.
Some bookies let you choose your spread. Others stick only to the spread with even odds (-110). In this case, the spread would (probably) be set to 4.5 games. This means that for Swiatek to cover the spread, she’d need to win by a margin of at least five games (e.g., 6-3, 6-4).
When to Back Favorites/Underdogs to Cover the Spread
The No. 1 reason bettors go with spread betting is that the odds are great, even when backing solid favorites. Let’s say the Moneyline odds on Rafael Nadal beating Nick Kyrgios are just -500; you can get better value by betting on the spread.
Betting Nadal to win in straight sets would result in better odds, probably somewhere in the ballpark of -150. But even if that’s not good enough for you, betting on Rafa to cover the game spread would be the right thing to do.
The margin would likely be set to six games, with -110 odds on each option. The question, however, is whether Nadal would be able to beat Kyrgios by six or more games. Maybe it would be better to bet against him.
Your betting decision depends on the circumstances. You need to consider all sorts of factors, including the players’ form, surface type (e.g., Nadal is the King of Clay), and so on.
You should also keep in mind that most sets finish only with a margin of two or three games. The thing is that scoring a point on a serve is way easier than scoring on a return.