Tennis is a sport that lends itself very well to bettors, because there is a one-on-one element of it, with matchups presenting themselves every day, as well as the opportunity to have fields and futures.
It would be rare to find an online sportsbook that does not carry tennis betting; however, it would also be unusual to find many sportsbooks that deal in every week’s tournament on both the men’s and women’s side. The larger US facing books such as Bovada and 5Dimes offer lines on the majority of ATP and WTA events, as well as most matches from the Challenger circuit. Hopman Cup and Davis Cup betting lines are also both available.
Suffice it to say, however, that the major events, the “Grand Slams,” so to speak, will be given by far the most extensive coverage. The Grand Slams are:
- Australian Open
- French Open
- U.S. Open
In each of these tournaments there is a futures field that is posted for some time before the event takes place. It remains there until the event begins, and is updated throughout. Here are some of the favorites for the 2013 U.S. Open on the men’s side, as the first weekend action had just started:
Novak Djokovic +220
Rafael Nadal +230
Andy Murray +395
Roger Federer +1435
Juan Martin Del Potro +1625
Tomas Berdych +5000
Jerzy Janowicz +7500
John Isner +8000
David Ferrer +8500
These were the only players who were priced at less than 100-1 to win the tournament. So as you can see, the field is anything but wide open. Rather, the lines on the individual matches offer a little more interest on a consistent basis.
For all the matchups that involve seeded players, and many others as well, there are money lines. Here are some recent examples from one of the early rounds of the U.S. Open, and admittedly there is one where there is a sizable favorite:
Roger Federer -2775
Grega Zemlja +1775
James Blake -115
Ivo Karlovic -105
These are not the only tennis betting propositions out there. Depending on how aggressive the online sportsbook is, you could find them in profusion. You would be able to wager on:
— The number of games a particular match will go (over/under format)
— The number of sets a match will go (more or less a multiple choice scenario)
— Who will win the first set
— Who will win in the various brackets and advance to the semi-finals
Another interesting proposition involves what round of the tournament a leading player will be eliminated. This is how it looked, at one online sportsbook, for Rafael Nadal in the U.S. Open:
1st round +2000
2nd round +2200
3rd round +1400
4th round +800
Runner up +275
When you are handicapping this sport in the Grand Slams, there is something very important to keep in mind. Each of these four tournaments, which represent, aside from the Sony Open in Miami, the only time the men AND women will gather in one place for a two-week tournament, take place on distinct surfaces.
The French Open, at Roland Garros, is on red clay. Wimbledon, also known as the All-England Tennis Championships, is a grass court tournament. The U.S. Open and Australian Open are both played on hard courts, although they are slightly different, in the sense that the surface used in Australia is called Plexicushion, while the U.S. Open surface is Deco Turf, which is a bit faster.
These surfaces have a very definite impact on what the results are going to be. Certainly there are great all-surface players, but not many of them. You are much more likely to find players who are much more adept at playing on clay, or who are better on the hard courts. Competitors who like to serve and volley will surely find favorable conditions at Wimbledon, while those who sit back and rally find themselves more at home on a clay surface. This is the kind of thing that always has to figure into your handicapping of these events.
You want to do some additional research when you are handicapping, and there are plenty of sites you can visit where you can look into any player’s history on various surfaces, as well as the Grand Slams. You may be surprised to find that there are some players who are ranked highly in the computer, but consistently underachieve in the Slams. One player who fit that category in the past was Brad Gilbert (later a respected coach), who was often ranked in the top ten but never got past the quarterfinal round in any Grand Slam tournament in his 13-year career.
Let’s step away from the Grand Slams for a moment. When you take a look at some of the other tournaments, an issue that is ugly but has to be dealt with, and considered on your part, is that of “tanking,” or throwing a match. This is done for a number of reasons, and there have been plenty of scandals surrounding this subject in recent years. It’s not just match-fixing for profit; it also happens because of convenience. If you would like to acquire some insight into this, you may want to read one of the best tennis books of all time – Hard Courts, which was written by John Feinstein.