Live Betting on Tennis: A Guide

Live betting on tennis is exploding in popularity. Here's how to jump in mid-match and capitalize on the shifting odds.

April 23, 2024

Live betting is hot at Tipico. We’ve pointed that out. Nearly three quarters of our handle (total amount of money wagered) in 2024 has been on live betting, a 20 percent gain from 2023. Of course, the biggies like basketball, football, baseball and hockey are the hot spots.

But tennis live betting is also trending way up. Well over 90 percent handle on tennis this year has been live, and our live tennis handle has more than quadrupled in the first three months of 2024 compared to the same time frame in 2023.

“Tennis has a perfect cadence for live/rapid betting. The time it takes to complete a set vs. a game vs. a point means bettors can engage in multiple different ways,” says Jacob Stein, Product Lead, Sportsbook Front-End at Tipico. “There is also a ‘feel’ to a tennis match which can fluidly change throughout the match, and I think a lot of bettors are attracted to the dynamic nature of that. Besides that, it can be fun to bet on a player you like, even if they won’t win the match — maybe they can win the set, the game, the point, etc.”

He’s right. Tennis is fast-paced, there are loads of matches every tournament, and there are certain tendencies that pop up in tennis matches that can give you a great chance at nice payouts.

Who’s going to win the next set? The 8th game? The third point of the ninth game of the second set? No need to just do a prematch bet on the moneyline, the spread or the total. You can get right into a match with a bunch of live bets and feel out the momentum of each player.

The great thing about live betting in tennis is that often you will get juicier odds on a player than you would have prematch. If your player has “meh” prematch odds, but then they drop the first couple of games or even the first set, those odds will go up quite significantly. If you’ve got the guts to put money on that player and then they win, you could get a decent payout.

Tips and Strategies

Ride the favorite: Say the match favorite drops the first set. The odds on that player winning will rise significantly, especially in a best-two-out-of-three format. If you do a live bet on that player and they come back to win two straight sets and the match, you could reap a handsome payout.

Momentum after a tiebreak: A player who wins a 7-6 tiebreak can carry a ton of momentum into the next set. Tennis is a sport of big momentum swings, and there aren’t many bigger momentum shifts than winning a grueling set.

Bet on the dog and wait: You can do a prematch bet on the underdog and then watch how the favorite does. If they start slowly, the odds on them will rise higher than they were prematch. You can then bet on them, and if they win, you’ve gotten better odds than you would have prematch. And if they lose, you’ve already bet on the dog to win.

Winning the next point, game or set can be a winning wager, especially the player serving has a nearly unbreakable service game. The server in tennis nearly always has the advantage because of their ability to pinpoint a super-fast serve toward the weakest part of the other player, normally their backhand.

Hedging: With live betting, you can hedge your prematch bet if your first pick struggles. Let’s say that Djokovic is favored against Alcaraz in the US Open final. You bet on Novak prematch, but then he struggles and looks like he could lose. You can then hedge your bet by going with Alcaraz to win the match in a live bet and you might still end up with a payout – or you could at least break even or reduce your losses.

Know the Players: Do your research on player tendencies and that will inform your live bets. Some players are great at rallying from a set down. Some players always seeem to dominate certain other players (historically, Serena Williams vs Maria Sharapova, for instance). Some players are great on grass, not so much on clay (Roger Federer for example).

There are a lot of external variables in tennis — altitude, court surface, weather, the opponent — which can greatly affect a player’s performance. Knowing how players do in various conditions will put you one or two steps ahead with live betting.

Catch a break: When a player breaks the opponent’s serve, there is a good chance that player will win the next game in the set. “Breaking serve” means the non-serving player wins that game in a set. Serving players virtually always have the advantage in a game, and when they lose that, it can greatly shift momentum.

Dive into the numbers: The ATP and WTA websites have treasure troves of data about each player — records on grass, clay or hardcourt; head-to-head records vs other opponents; serving history, break-serve history, etc. Dig into the metrics and start getting a feel for how players fare under different circumstances and you’ll be live-betting with knowledge and not guesswork.

Rest and rivalries: Is one player coming off a good amount of rest while another is coming off a grueling tournament? Does one star seem to have a rival’s number? After her first few years, Serena Williams seemed to always beat her sister Venus and Russian rival Maria Sharapova. Rafael Nadal had a 24-16 record against Roger Federer, despite those two being two of the greatest ever.

Watch, don’t follow: It’s always best to watch the match you’re live-betting on, not just follow the scores online. You can glean a lot lf valuable info by seeing players’ body language. Do they seem to be confident and in control, or frustrated and forcing everything? You can also watch to see if either player is being hampered by an injury.

Types of Live Tennis Bets

Different books may offer a variety of live tennis bets, but most — including Tipico Sportsbook — will likely offer these options:

Total games is betting over or under on how many games there will be in a match. If two players are highly competitive, for instance Novak Djokovic vs Carlos Alcaraz, it might be a good option to go with the over.

A spread live bet is picking one player to beat the other by a certain number of games, or to win a game by a certain amount of points. It could be a good bet if you think there is clear dominance in the match.

Set betting is a live wager on who will win the next set, or any particular set. If one player seems to be in control of the match, then betting on them to win the next set could work.

Correct score wagering gives bettors the option to pick an exact score in a certain set. For instance, you might take one player to win a set 6-4. It can be tricky to win correct score bets, but the odds are generally much higher and can offer a substantial payout.

Alex Valdes
Alex Valdes is Web Content Manager at Tipico North America. He has written, edited and performed user and site analysis at MoneyTalksNews, NBC Sports, MSN, Bing, MSNBC, as well as newspapers and magazines.