How Does the Spread Work in Tennis Betting?

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Carlos Alcaraz of Spain reacts during his quarterfinal match against Alexander Zverev of Germany at the Australian Open tennis championships at Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024.
(AP Photo/Andy Wong)
Chase Kiddy @chaseakiddy Jan 24, 2024, 2:42 PM

In tennis, spread betting works similarly to how point spreads work in other sectors of the online sports betting world.

There are many different styles of betting in a sport like tennis. The most common is the tennis moneyline, where bettors pick a straight-up match winner. Spread betting is slightly different because bets revolve around the number of games won inside of a match. 

Thus, tennis spread bettors must pay close attention to the number of games won and not necessarily the match outcome. 

While winning games typically correlates with winning matches, there is not a direct, automatic relationship between the two – the same way a football team might generate more yards than its opponent, but still lose the game. 

Here’s an example: Player A might beat Player B by a score of 6-4, 1-6, 7-6. Player A won the match, but Player B won 16 games to Player A’s 14 games. In tennis, this kind of scenario is uncommon but hardly unprecedented. 

How Does a Spread Bet Win?

As is the case with any bet involving a point spread, a bettor wins if his side covers the relevant spread. Favorites and underdogs have fundamentally different relationships to that spread outcome.

Tennis favorites are expected to win. So to cover a spread, they must not only win more games, but win by a predetermined margin of games. That margin is the spread. If Player A is a 2.5-game favorite, they must win by at least three games. 

If Player A is a 2.5-game favorite and wins 6-4, 6-3, their five-game margin would have covered the spread. However, if they won 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, they would have won the match but failed to cover a 2.5-game spread. The net margin in this scenario is only two games, which is less than the 2.5-game spread.

Here’s a third scenario. Imagine Player A is a 2.5-game favorite. They lose the match by a score of 6-0, 4-6, 6-7. In this unusual-but-definitely-possible outcome, Player A would have lost their match and been eliminated from most tournaments, yet they still would have covered the game spread as a favorite. 

On the other hand, there are tennis spread underdogs. These players are expected to win fewer games; instead of winning more games, they are expected to keep the score inside of that predetermined spread margin.

Let’s say Player B is a spread underdog who is priced at +4.5 games. If Player B loses in straight sets, 5-7, 5-7, his four-game margin would result in a successful +4.5 spread bet. If he loses 3-6, 2-6, though, his seven-game margin would be a cover for the -4.5 favorite.

Any scenario where an underdog wins more games outright than their opponent is an automatic spread win for an underdog. Favorites cash bets by winning and covering; underdogs win by either covering the spread or winning outright.

How Do Set Spreads Work In Tennis?

If you’re experimenting with tennis betting, you may also see that the BetMGM online sportsbook has set spreads in addition to typical game spreads. 

Set spread betting works exactly the same as game spread betting but with one major change. Instead of the spread governing how many games the two players will win or lose, it instead governs how many sets the two players will win or lose. This ties in closely to set betting

For example, imagine a scenario where a bettor wagers on Player B to cover +2.5 sets at the French Open. Let’s say Player A beats Player B, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2. 

Since Player B lost 3-1, and he was +2.5 sets, that would be a successful bet. Anyone who bet on Player A at -2.5 sets would have lost. 

Set spread betting is a bit more exotic and uncommon than normal game spread betting. However, it can be popular in grand slam tournaments when the men’s tour moves to a Best-of-5 scoring system. In those tournaments, set betting allows bettors to account for more potential scores in a tournament with a wider range of outcomes.

Tennis Odds at BetMGM

At the online sportsbook, tennis betting odds are available for thousands of matches each year. Whether you’re looking for Wimbledon odds, live sports betting odds, or WTA odds, there’s something for everyone.

Sign in to your account today — or, if you don’t have an account, sign up today with a sportsbook welcome offer — to start betting. And always check your new account for updated sportsbook promos and bonuses.

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About the Author

Chase Kiddy

Read More @chaseakiddy

Chase Kiddy is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of The Lion's Edge, an NFL and college football podcast available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and everywhere else. He has also written for a number of print and online outlets, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington Post, Daily News-Record, and HERO Sports. His first novel, Cave Paintings, is in development.

Chase Kiddy is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of The Lion's Edge, an NFL and college football podcast available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and everywhere else. He has also written for a number of print and online outlets, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington Post, Daily News-Record, and HERO Sports. His first novel, Cave Paintings, is in development.