Tennis is a sport followed by millions around the world, and with numerous tournaments, unexpected outcomes and thrilling matches it has become dominant in the world of modern betting. Read below for the history, the tournaments, the players to watch out for, and some inside betting tips to get you started.
Maria Sharapova playing tennis at Roland Garros
image credit: Johan – Flickr
History of Tennis
As with most sports, tennis has some variety when it comes to beliefs of origins. However, the standard setting is from France in the 1100’s, developing from a sport called jeu de paume (or ‘game of the palm’) which, as the name suggests, involved hitting a ball with the palm of your hand. Original, we know. Now, Louis X was one Frenchman who was a big fan, and is supposedly the first to build indoor tennis courts in the fashion that we have come to know them for.
Move forward 400 years, and rackets came into play, along with the term ‘tennis’ – which, if you’re interested, comes from the Old French tenez. From this spurned the world’s first documented tennis club – Leamington Spa.
From these humble beginnings, tennis has developed into one of the world’s leading sports, with some staggering depth behind it economically. Take the men for example: of those currently playing, the top four highest earners (of career prize money) have a combined total of £218,671,997. Yep.
The Main Players
This leads us to the next point – who are the game’s main stars that you should be looking out for whilst getting your punt on? In the men’s, the top four earners mentioned above are Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray. They happen to rank in the current top 5 as well (3, 1, 5 and 2 respectively) along with Stan Wawrinka in 4th.
For the women, you’re looking at the dominant Serena Williams in a clear first position, tailed by (get ready for it): Agnieszka Radwanska, Angelique Kerber, Garbine Muguruza, and Victoria Azarenka.
What next? How about some key points like tournaments?
The world of tennis can get a bit confusing for the uninitiated, so hopefully we can iron that out for you: there are tiers of events split between the four Grand Slams and the nine Masters 1,000 Series events.
Now, as the name suggests, winning a Masters 1,000 tournament will get you 1000 ranking points. Winning a Grand Slam meanwhile will bring home a cool 2000. To put that in perspective, Serena Williams is sitting on over 8000 points in her ranking. Obviously though, these can go down as well as up.
On top of this, there exists the World Tour Finals, which is open to the top eight players of that particular season.
The Grand Slams mentioned above include the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open – in that order, every year. Let’s take a closer look at each of those.
Played in the stifling hear of the Australian summer in January each year, there is often cause for delay with matches called off with temperatures soaring over the 40 degrees Celsius mark. However, this makes for thrilling and grueling matches.
Djokovic has dominated the men’s tournament here over the past few years, winning five of the past six since 2011. At the close of the tournament, this is what the Open’s official website wrote of him: “The world No.1 is unbeaten in 2016, has claimed seven consecutive titles and shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. Formidable doesn’t quite cover it. Champion is surely the word.” Couldn’t have put it better.
Meanwhile, in the women’s version, Williams had controlled the event in 2016 and looked set to go back-to-back until she suffered a shock defeat in the final to world number three, Kerber.
Careful when betting here – this one’s known for its surprise results (Djokovic aside).
Following the Australian Open is the French edition, also known as Roland-Garros, which is played on Clay Court across May and June. In his prime Rafael Nadal enjoyed continual success on this surface, winning a staggering nine of ten stretching from 2005 to 2014. Last year, however, we saw Rafa fall away somewhat, and Wawrinka took full advantage.
In the women’s, Maria Sharapova and Williams have traded barbs for four years, going one after the other with Williams winning in 2015. She’s looking good once again.
The pin-up poster of international tennis, and the oldest tournament in existence, Wimbledon holds a special place in all fans’ hearts. Played in the cool summer of England since 1877, it attracts huge audiences live and on TV globally, and is one that a lot of players will aim to peak for. Played on grass (the only Major still to do so) it suits the big-servers.
Unsurprisingly in the men’s, Djokovic took home the crown in 2015 for the second year straight, and will be confident of repeating it this year. Apart from 2013 in which Murray became the first Brit to win Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936, one of either Federer, Nadal or Djokovic have finished top of the pile since 2003.
Unbelievably in the women’s, in the 16 Wimbledon meetings since 2000 one of either Serena Williams or her sister Venus Williams has won the title save for five occasions. That included last year – of course – with Serena going the distance.
And at long last we come to the closer of the Grand Slams each year, the US Open. Played on hard courts like in Australia, this tournament has familiar winners of recent times in the men’s event.
Last year, as you might have guessed by now, Djokovic took home the cash, but it was in the women’s tournament that the surprise bells rang with first-time winner Flavia Pennetta going the distance. The Italian retired at the end of the season, going out on a high, so we strongly recommend you put no money on her defending her title.
Betting in Tennis
The final piece to the tennis puzzle is the betting then. So, what do you need to take into account? Well, apart from the dominance of the top few in the men’s, and the occasional surprise that women’s tennis can throw up, there are some significant factors to take into account.
The main tennis markets are overall tournament bets – Outright Winner, along with markets like To Reach The Final and Player Progress/Quarter Winners –and micro-markets within the tournaments – Match Odds, Total Games, Set Results, Set Handicap, Game Handicap, Most Aces etc.
Before launching into this, it’s work thinking about the following. Form isn’t everything in tennis. A lot can change dependent on conditions and surface. Particularly that last point. If you’re unsure, research your players before betting because Nadal dominating on clay doesn’t mean he’ll beat Federer on grass at Wimbledon just because the latter went out early in France. As a quick guide to that difference, clay will slow balls down and create a higher bounce. That means that a player with a big serve may not have the same dominance in that side of his or her game as on grass. These sorts of changes apply to all sorts of conditions.
Tennis is a beautiful sport to watch at its prime, and a frustrating sport to bet on without research. Some websites to help you with this are Matchstat, Tennis Abstract, and the ATP site.
And, of course, your blog page right here at Hello Punter Tennis pre-tournament!