How to Bet on Tennis in South Africa – A Beginner’s Guide
After soccer, tennis is the most bet on sport in the world. With an incredibly long season and tournaments happening most weeks of the year, it’s a punter’s delight.
And if you’re into live Sports Betting, there are enough tennis matches in the Men’s ATP and Ladies WTA circuits alone, that you’re almost guaranteed action to bet on all hours of the day!
Here we’ll give you the basics of tennis betting markets and how they work so you can try to find value and make a profit from tennis betting.
How to bet on tennis in South Africa
Before we go into any specific tennis betting markets, let’s first hit on a few key factors to consider when betting on tennis. Firstly, bear in mind that different players have varying strengths and weaknesses which means they are better or worse suited to certain conditions.
The most obvious of these variables is the surface they are playing on—hard, clay, grass or carpet (rare). The reason court surface makes such a difference to how players perform is due to the speed at which the ball and player can move.
If a player can’t get to the ball quick enough on grass or is struggling to return a serve on a fast-paced hardcourt, their overall performance is affected.
Types of tennis players
Tennis players also have variable skill sets and are more suited to playing certain opponents than others. A few examples of different tennis players are big servers, baseline players, serve-and-volley players, defensive players and players who like to play at the net.
So how does this help your tennis betting? For example, a player might perform better against left or right-handed opponents. Tennis bettors can also take advantage of a strong returner playing against an opponent with a weak serve, or vice versa.
But these are just a few of the many different factors you have to consider when placing your tennis bets.
Head to head stats
The best way to find out how certain players perform against others on the tennis court is to look at head-to-head stats. The most important of these for tennis betting is a player’s combined hold/break percentage on a particular court.
This kind of useful information can be found in the Statistics and/or Results section at most online bookmakers in South Africa.
Before we analyse different tennis betting markets, the main takeaway here is that different styles of play and court surfaces impact the results in tennis betting. Certain matchups favour one player over another and all these factors should be considered when placing your tennis bets.
Top tennis betting sites in South Africa
There are some excellent online bookmakers in South Africa where you can bet on the ATP, WTA, ITF and Challenger tours. Our favourites include Betway, Sportingbet and Sunbet. There are also plenty of promotions available on these sites which include tennis multiple specials and more.
While we love betting on tennis at all three of these top South African betting sites, Sunbet deserves a special mention as they have the best odds you’ll find anywhere. They also offer the biggest selection of markets for Game Handicap betting compared to any other bookmaker.
Tennis betting markets
If this is your first time betting on tennis, the good news is tennis betting is not as overwhelming as soccer when it comes to the sheer number of different markets available. In fact, there are only a handful of main tennis betting markets you need to understand before you can get started.
Winner / Match Odds
As with soccer, the Match Winner is the most popular market in tennis and is the most straightforward to understand. This is a bet on the winner of a match after either 3 or 5 sets depending on the tournament format. Because tiebreaks ensure there are no draws in tennis, your options in the Match Winner market are limited to either Player A or Player B.
Example: Match Winner – Rafa Nadal
Game Handicap Betting
A game handicap in tennis betting is when one player is given a certain number of games over their opponent to level the playing field.
Like in other sports, the bookmaker sets the line and punters must decide whether Player A will overcome their minus (-) handicap disadvantage and still win, or Player B will win the match with their plus (+) handicap advantage over Player A.
The match winner doesn’t matter, it’s the number of games won compared to the other player that counts.
Example: If you bet on Player A (- 3.5 games), then for your bet to win, Player A must have won at least 4 games more than Player B after adding up the games won by both players after the match.
A set handicap in tennis betting is when one player is given a certain number of ser over their opponent to level the playing field.
Like in other sports, the bookmaker sets the line (number of sets) and punters must decide whether Player A will overcome their minus (-) handicap disadvantage and still win, or Player B will win the match with their plus (+) handicap advantage over Player A.
The match winner doesn’t matter, it’s the number of sets won in relation to the other player that counts.
Example: If you bet on Player B (+ 1.5 sets), then for your bet to win, Player B must either win outright or lose by no more than one set after adding up the sets won by both players after the match.
Correct Score / Set Betting
Set betting is another way to get better value on a heavy favourite or side with an underdog, which is a popular way to bet on tennis online. How this works is very much like soccer correct score betting except there is a more limited number of possible scores.
A three-set match can only end in four possible ways (2-0, 2-1, 0-2 or 1-2) while a five-set match can end in six different scorelines (3-0, 3-1, 3-2, 0-3, 1-3, 2-3).
Instead of betting on a favourite to win the match at short odds or backing an underdog to cause an unlikely upset, set betting on the correct score can be a more lucrative option.
Example: If you bet on Player A to win 3-0, then for your bet to win, Player A must win the match and not lose a single set.
Total Games (Over/Under)
Over/Under betting in tennis is like handicap betting in the sense that you are predicting a match to either be dominated by one player or closer than expected.
The bookmaker will set a line for how many games they think will be played and punters can choose whether the number of games will be over or under that amount.
If you can’t decide on the match winner, betting on Total Games is a good way to hedge your risk and rather predict how long you think the match will go, regardless of who wins.
Example: If you bet on Over 22.5 Total Games, then for your bet to win, 23 games or more must be played by the end of the match.
Total Sets (Over/Under)
The bookmaker sets a line for how many sets they think will be played and punters can choose whether the number of sets will be over or under that amount.
If you can’t decide on the match winner, betting on Total Sets is another good way to be cautious and make predictions about the length of the match rather than who will end victorious.
Example: If you bet on Under 3.5 Total Sets, then for your bet to win, 3 or fewer sets must be played by the end of the match.
First Set Winner
If you know a player likes to get off to a fast start, you can back them to win the first set. Regardless of what happens in the rest of the match, this bet is settled based on which player wins the first set.
Example: Set 1 Winner – Djokovic
Player Total Games
A less popular tennis betting market is the Player Total Games market which is an Over/Under bet on how many games a player will win against their opponent.
The match winner is not counted in the settlement of this bet, all that matters is whether the player you bet on won as many or as few games as you predicted.
Like the Match Total Games Over/Under market, backing a weak player to win over a certain number of games is often the best way to get with an underdog.
Example: If you bet on Anderson Total Games Over 10.5, then for your bet to win, he must win 11 or more games by the end of the match.
Tennis Outright Betting
Another option for tennis bettors is the outright market for tournaments such as the US Open or Wimbledon. Bookmakers offer odds on individual players to win the title, which will require winning either 4 or 7 matches in standard tournaments or grand slams respectively.
Example: Dominic Thiem to win the French Open
Tennis retirements and withdrawals
Across bookmakers, there are various betting rules which can apply when a player retires or withdraws from a tennis tournament. For example, if you place a bet on a player to win the 1st set of a tennis match and they retire in the 2nd set, some bookmakers will settle your bet as a winner.
Other bookmakers will void/cancel your bet and refund your stake because the match was not completed.
Before betting on tennis with any online bookmaker, we recommend looking over their Betting Rules under the Tennis section to see how they settle bets where there has been a player retirement or withdrawal. Because once the bet is settled according to their betting rules there’s very little you can do as a punter to change the result.
Where to bet on tennis in South Africa
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This was a long article but it still only touches on the surface of what is possible with online tennis betting. There are many more factors to consider such as court speed, tiebreak performance, fatigue and choking which we didn’t cover at all.
Please come back to Betting Guide, where we regularly post articles about tennis betting and more so you have all the right information you need to get an edge over the bookmakers.