How to bet on tennis: Set betting, props, match handicaps and more
We'll explain all the tennis markets you can bet on for stars like Novak Djokovic. Photo by Charles Krupa/AP.

Tennis is one of the most popular sports in the world, and it reaches its pinnacle on two tours: the ATP for men and the WTA for women.

Over the past 20 years, tennis has largely been dominated by four big names: Novak Djokovic, Serena Williams, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. But with that era waning, a new era of stars is emerging, led by young Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz.

Now is a great time to embrace tennis and learn about betting on it, too.

How to bet on tennis

The legalization of single-game betting in Canada presents the perfect opportunity to grow familiar with the different ways you can bet on your favourite sports.

From match spreads to player props, we will run you through the most popular ways to bet on tennis.

Match winners

Picking the winner of a match is the most popular way to bet on tennis, due in part to its simplicity.

One player will be denoted as the favourite, with a (-) sign next to their name, while the other will be the underdog, with a (+) sign next to their name. Think of this as a moneyline (ML) wager.

Let’s use a hypothetical match between Alcaraz and Djokovic at the Wimbledon as an example. Djokovic is known for being the best grass player in the world, which would likely lead him to be favoured, and the odds could look something like this:

Novak Djokovic (-150) vs. Carlos Alcaraz (+120).

In this scenario, Djokovic at -150 has a 60% implied probability to win. This means you would have to bet $150 to win $100. The extra $50 is the commission the sportsbook takes and is known as the juice.

Sometimes there will be matches where the favourite sits at -1,000 or more to win. At -1000 the book is placing a 90% implied probability of victory.

Roger Federer was typically a massive favourite during his prime. Photo by Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP.

Ashleigh Barty was the WTA world No. 1 prior to her shocking retirement at the age of 25. You could often find her as a massive favourite in the early rounds of tournaments.

If superstar WTA player Iga Swiatek were to play Julia Grabher, the No. 90-ranked player, you should expect to see odds at -1,250 or more for Swiatek to win.

Some other examples of odds and their accompanying payouts:

-125: Bet $125 to win $100
-400: Bet $400 to win $100
+175: A $100 bet wins $175
+300: A $100 bet wins $300

Match handicaps

Match handicap is essentially betting the spread for tennis.

Sportsbooks set a number of games they believe the favourite will win by and you have to decide whether or not the favourite will cover that amount to win. This allows bettors to get even odds for an uneven match.

Take the example of Swiatek and Grabher from above. It's not worth betting Swiatek on the moneyline, as you'd need to risk $1,250 to win $100. Also, it is very unlikely that Grabher wins, so her ML action is also not the play. The match handicap provides a way to bet Swiatek or Grabher with a good return on investment.

Match handicaps are typically provided with odds set at -110 apiece. You may see some variance — possibly -130 odds on one side and +110 on the other — but the odds are usually close to even.

Using the same Swiatek vs. Grabher example, the match handicap could be set at 6.5, meaning Swiatek would have to win by 7 games or more. If Swiatek won the match 6-2, 6-3, that would mean she bested Grabher in total games, 12-5. With a difference of seven, Swiatek would have covered the match handicap.

If Swiatek won 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 that would mean a 15-12 win overall, and Grabher would win the match handicap bet.

The match handicap can change drastically based on who is competing, what surface is being played on and who is riding a hot streak.

Set betting

Set betting allows you to wager more specifically on how you think a match will play out. There are options to bet either competitor to win 3-0, 3-1, or 3-2 for ATP matches, as well as 2-0 or 2-1 for WTA matches.

Let's use a fairly even ATP match to demonstrate how this would work. On the moneyline, we'll say Stefanos Tsitsipas is a -130 favourite, while Taylor Fritz is a +120 underdog. Here are their set betting odds:

3-0: Tsitsipas (+300), Fritz (+500)
3-1: Tsitsipas (+333), Fritz (+450)
3-2: Tsitsipas (+500), Fritz (+430)

The book assumes Tsitsipas has the best chance to win in straight sets, while Fritz’s best chance is to force a long and gruelling match, winning 3-2 (at +430).

If a player is -600 to win outright, and you are confident they will demolish their opponent, it could be a good idea to bet them to win in straight sets, where you may find better value.

Totals

There are multiple ways to bet totals in tennis, varying from individual sets to match totals. This is also referred to as an over/under, or O/U. Typically, both the over and under will be designated with -110 odds.

The most common O/U to bet on is total games, in which you are wagering on how long the match will last. Suppose the O/U for total games in a WTA match is set at 20.5.

There are a number of ways you can bet on Bianca Andreescu in any of her tennis matches. Photo by Seth Wenig/AP.

If the match were to end 6-0, 4-6, 6-2, then the total amount of games is 24, and the over would win. If the match ended 6-2, 6-0, the total games would sit at 14 and cash the under.

The same rule applies for set game totals, but the number would look smaller, perhaps around 7.5.

You can also bet on total sets, which may look like this for an ATP matchup:

Three sets +165
Four sets +150
Five sets +260

Outrights

Every tournament is comprised of dozens of head-to-head matches, but the ultimate goal for each player is to win the event.

Picking an outright winner allows bettors to decide who will win the event, whether the bet is placed before or during the tournament.

Let’s assume you’re picking an outright winner before the tournament starts. The highest seeds will likely have the best odds. For the ATP, that might include players like Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev. In the WTA, you could see players like Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka.

As you go further down the seeding, longer odds will appear for players who are deemed less likely to win the tournament. For instance, Felix Auger-Aliassime could be set at +5,000 to win a high-level event before it begins.

These odds shift based on who is remaining in the tournament. If Auger-Aliassime progresses to the round of 32, his odds could shift to around +1,500.

When Bianca Andreescu won the U.S Open in 2019, her pre-tournament outright odds were set at +1400, according to SB Nation. This means a $100 bet would have netted a $1,400 profit.

How to bet on tennis props

Tennis has a robust prop market. Within every match, there are hundreds of options for prop bets, which are typically split into match and player props.

Player props are denoted for one specific competitor and are often presented in an over/under or yes/no format. Let's use Denis Shapovalov as an example:

Shapovalov O/U 6.5 aces (-110)
Shapovalov O/U 19.5 game wins (-110)
To win from behind: Yes (+400) No (-500)

You can bet on Denis Shapovalov props if you're uninterested in wagering on outright markets. Photo by Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP.

Match props combine possible outcomes from both competitors. Here are some examples:

First set total games O/U 9.5 (Over -175, Under +130)
Total breaks of serve O/U 4.5 (Over -163, Under +120)
Match total double faults O/U 4.5 (Over -120, Under -120)

There are many more props to choose from, so take a close look when deciding what you want to place.

Live betting

Live betting is a way to bet on a match once it is underway. This may provide an opportunity to back a pre-match favourite who has shifted to underdog odds.

Let's say Leylah Fernandez was -200 to win the match prior to its start. If she were to lose the first set, the odds to win could shift to something like +200 on the live market. With that change, the ROI on a $100 bet would go from $50 to $200 after just one set.

Live betting set winners is also common practice. Odds fluctuate drastically on a point-to-point basis when live betting sets. For instance, if one player breaks another's serve, you will see their live odds shorten.

You can also live bet individual points, games or over/unders.

How to bet on tennis parlays

To build a parlay, combine two or more selections (also called legs) into one bet slip. You can combine multiple markets into a parlay, mixing match winners, spreads, props and more.

When parlaying, you assume greater risk compared to when you place individual wagers — that's because every leg must win for your parlay to be successful. So if you have a five-leg parlay and only four legs cash, you lose.

This is how a three-leg parlay could look:

Denis Shapovolov to win match (+150)
Andrey Rublev -3.5 match handicap (-110)
Stefanos Tsitsipas to win 3-0 (+270)

The combined odds for this particular parlay would be +1665, which potentially turns a $100 wager into a $1,665 profit.

NorthStar Bets editorial Insiders have no influence, direct or otherwise, over the setting of odds advertised on our platforms.