When you comb through a day’s tennis schedule and start to look around at some stats, you’ll get a feel for how a match will pan out.
You might have analysed a player’s current form, their record on a particular surface, their latest serve/return/winners/unforced errors data and their head-to-head record against an opponent and concluded ‘yep, I believe this will happen.’
Your default might be to head to the match winner market of your chosen betting site/app, but is this always the right way to play it?
In our recent tennis betting articles, we’ve explored ways in which you can absolutely maximise your edge when having a flutter on tennis – you really want your research to yield rewards, ultimately, and it’s imperative that you squeeze all the value you can out of winning bets.
And that’s why eschewing the match winner market in favour of set betting might just be the smartest way to play it…
Tennis Set Betting: The Basics
As an example of what we are investigating here, we looked at an ATP Dallas match between Taylor Fritz and Jack Sock.
The in-form Fritz was well-fancied to defeat the veteran, Sock, with the bookmakers pricing the younger man as short as 1/8.
In the words of darts commentator Rod Studd, ‘if you’ve got eight, what do you need another one for?’
Betting on 1/8 shots is unlikely to end in long-term success, but look what happens when we load up the set betting market:
Instead of getting 1/8 on Fritz to win, we can now take him to triumph in straight sets (2-0) at 1/2. If you wagered £10 on both outcomes, you’d walk away with £3.75 more in the green on a straight sets win than a win by any score line. Multiply that over the course of a number of bets and you can see what a difference that enhanced payout would make.
Is there a risk to set betting in this way? Of course, because Sock might win a set to scupper our 2-0 flutter. But if you suspected that Sock would win a set in a best-of-three contest, you’d be foolhardy to be backing Fritz to win at 1/8 anyway.
This is just one example, of course, and there may be closer-fought contests where backing 2-1 to your chosen player may be the advantage bet. But in these cases, you’d probably be better wagering on the Total Sets market – we’ve covered that in a separate article.
Tennis Set Betting: Other Options
It goes without saying that set betting is rather more straightforward in best-of-three matches than best-of-fives at the Grand Slams – the extra permutations in these longer contests becoming something of a minefield for punters.
If you click the ‘set betting’ tab of your bookmakers’ website/app, you will notice that more options are available to you.
You will be offered odds on the first set winner – these are typically reflective of the overall match winner market, plus total sets. This isn’t the same as the over/under option, because in best-of-three matches you will instead be asked for the exact number of sets to be played (i.e. two or three).
Other options include first set score, first set total games (over/under) and first set score correct group, which can be an interesting way to play things. You can bet on Dutched groupings such as 6-3 and 6-4 in a single bet, which can also be a way to maximise your edge if you think a set will have lots of breaks of serve or, alternatively, if it will go to 7-5 or 7-6 with lots of service game holds.
Some firms are even offering prop bets in each set, such as total breaks of serve, total aces, first player to break serve and so on.
In short, set betting gives you so many more options to explore – and will hopefully arm you with some more advantageous angles of attack in your tennis punting.