Tennis is undoubtedly one of the most popular sports to bet on. Given how dominant the top players are, it can be challenging to find value because they are generally priced so low. This is where tennis handicap betting comes in. Offered by the majority of online bookmakers, they are used to enhance the returns when wagering on the market leaders.
Handicap markets balance the scales between the players involved, using a surplus and deficit, meaning that they also cater to those looking to back underdogs. Our tennis handicap betting explained guide covers all key details, including game and set handicap markets, as well as expert tips for creating a winning strategy. We will also deliver the best betting sites to place your wagers. Let’s get right on it.
What is Handicap in Tennis
In professional matches, there usually is a clear favorite in both the men’s and women’s tours. This is based on their world ranking, form, head-to-head successes and past performances. Market leaders are given very low odds, making betting on tennis almost pointless. So what is handicap in tennis? It provides the favorite with a virtual disadvantage while the outsider is handed an edge.
⏩ For example, backing Nadal to beat Aled De Minaur straight up pays 1.15. However, if you bet on the Spaniard to win by -1.5 sets, the odds rise to 1.85.
Nadal must win by two clear sets for your bet to deliver returns. Alternatively, you could bet on a longshot to beat Ons Jabeur at +5.5 games. You will win if Jabeur does not win 6+ games more than her opponent.
Best tennis handicap bookmakers
The majority of online bookmakers offer tennis handicap markets. However, some are better than others. When selecting one of the available tennis betting sites, consider the types of handicaps available, as well as odds, promotions and live streaming. Our recommended bookmakers score well in all areas while also being safe to use at all times:
Which are the main tennis handicap betting markets
By now, you must have grasped the basic principles of tennis handicap betting. However, there are many different markets to consider. It is generally advisable to take advantage of the pick that offers the best value. The number of markets at hand will depend on the match's profile. For example, Grand Slams will come with more options. Below are the most common ones to consider:
Set Handicap: Tennis set handicap markets are most commonly available during Men’s Grand Slams, including Wimbledon betting because there is more room for options. They are played in a best-of-5 format, compared to best-of-3 for women’s matches. Besides betting on a -1.5 set handicap, you can back a favorite to win by -2.5. This is risky since you only succeed if the final result is 3-0.
Games Handicap: Tennis is increasingly popular. Options are available surrounding an individual set, as well as the match as a whole. An example of a match handicap would be backing Andy Murray to beat Dan Evans at -5.5 games. Alternatively, back Emma Raducanu to win the first set against Jelena Ostapenko with a +1.5 games handicap.
Aces Handicap: While being rare among online bookies today, it is possible to place a handicap on which player will record the highest number of aces during a match. For example, while John Isner will have a tough time against Novak Djokovic, the American can certainly hit more aces than his opponent.
Break the Serve Handicap: Depending on the court surface and style of play, breaks are hugely important. As a result, playing on which player will do so the most is another potential market. For instance, you could bet on Félix Auger-Aliassime to break the serve more often than Taylor Fritz at -1.5. Aliassime is one of the best returners in the game, giving him plenty of break-point opportunities.
Double Faults Handicap: Some players often struggle on serve, especially under pressure. A double fault occurs when two consecutive serves fail. On selected sites, you can bet which player will have the most double faults during an individual match. For example, backing Alexander Bublik at -2.5 to record more double faults in his game against Thomas Fabiano. Bublik is known for going big on the second serve or even trying underarm serves, which often result in double faults. However, he is a player who still wins the majority of his matches.
Best tips for a winning tennis handicap betting strategy
While handicap tennis betting appeals to many, there are no guarantees that you will win. However, our expert team has compiled a list of top tips to help boost your chance of success when placing this type of wager:
Live betting Opportunities
One of the best ways to find value when tennis betting is to turn to in-play markets. This goes for tennis handicaps too. Live odds are constantly changing, with those who can stream matches being at an advantage immediately. For an example of how handicap betting works with live tennis markets, there is no better match than Rafael Nadal vs. Daniil Medvedev in the 2022 Australian Open Final. With Medvedev having been 2-0 up, those backing Nadal with a -2.5 set handicap for the rest of the match would have reaped the rewards. Live Streaming betting sites also help fulfill this strategy.
Check Past Form
Consider the recent form of players before placing a bet. For example, if a potential pick has been out of action due to injury, they may take time to rediscover their best form. While this does not automatically mean that they will lose, it does allow you to find value, especially when they are playing a seasoned professional. Consider backing an outsider to win with a + handicap rather than a traditional moneyline wager.
Do proper research
Ahead of confirming any tennis handicap bet, ensure that you have conducted relevant research. It is advisable to look at head-to-head records, as well as other statistics like recent results, motivation for victory and world ranking. There is extensive information available, including whether players regularly play deciding sets or matches where tie breaks are required. Such details will be invaluable to your strategy.
Looking at the playing styles of those involved is also crucial. For example, when a big server comes up against a player with a poor return, the match could be over quickly. Meanwhile, even the best players worldwide will struggle to break the serve against big hitters. As such, they may require a tiebreak to make a breakthrough. Therefore, game handicaps will well be worth taking advantage of.
In tennis, the surface of the court being used will have a significant impact on results. Some playing styles are better for fast grass courts, while others are more conducive to a slower clay court. For example, Roger Federer won no fewer than eight Wimbledon titles before retiring, compared to just one at the French Open. As a result, many will have benefited from placing handicap bets on Federer at Wimbledon, more so than at Roland Garros.
The best players sit at the top of the rankings for a reason. They regularly make it to the latter stages of Grand Slams and leading ATP and WTA tournaments. Therefore, betting against them at such events is not wise. However, upsets often occur at less high-profile competitions, such as ATP 250 events and lower. Even if they do not lose the match outright, favorites may drop a set or find themselves a tiebreak.
Best bookies for placing your tennis handicap bets
It is nothing new to turn to handicap tennis betting to find value. However, with the number of markets increasing, with game, set and other options, there has never been a better time to get started. Those who do their homework stand a good chance of making a nice profit. Meanwhile, many place live handicap tennis bets and often back the underdog.
When considering which bookie to sign up with, features including live streaming, fast markets and cash out will appeal. The best ones will help increase your chances of success, with the following having the best bookmakers rating:
The vast majority do, yes. However, the number of handicap markets will differ between sites. On some, you will find game, set and other options. However, others will only feature game handicap tennis markets.
A game handicap in tennis can be over the match as a whole or an individual set. When there is a clear favorite and underdog, this is a market used to find better value.
Set betting involves wagering on the winner of a match using a set surplus or deficit. The favorite will be given a deficit they must overcome, with the underdog being handed a surplus. For example, Djokovic to beat Nadal at -1.5 sets.
You will unlikely find promotions specific to this type of betting. However, there may well be offers that cater to those placing spread bets. These include free bets, price boosts and acca insurance.
No. With spread betting, you are betting on whether a particular outcome will occur, with punters selling and buying as they please. However, handicap betting works differently, with odds being determined by several factors.
This will refer to the number of games, sets or other possible outcomes in a tennis match. For example, in a Grand Slam men’s match, you could back a wildcard to upset his higher-ranked opponent at +2.5 sets.
It is worth noting that handicap bets can still be placed after a tennis match has started. However, the number of handicap markets will decrease as time goes on. Game handicap markets are the most common when it comes to in-play tennis.