How to Bet on Tennis Leading Up to 2024 French Open

Jen Piacenti breaks down the basics for wagering on tennis.
Carlos Alcaraz returns a shot during the semifinals of the 2023 French Open.
Carlos Alcaraz returns a shot during the semifinals of the 2023 French Open. / Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

Like any other sport, tennis offers a variety of fun and easy ways to get in on the action. With the French Open beginning next week, now is as good a time as any to check out these options.

You can bet on any individual match, or you can place a bet on who will win it all. That bet is a futures bet. There are also markets for proposition bets on things such as exact score, number of aces, and who will win the first game. These bets are also referred to as prop bets, and the markets will be released shortly before each match.

Betting on an individual match

When betting on an individual match, you have a couple of options: picking the moneyline or an over/under.

Moneyline 

A moneyline (ML) bet is simply a bet on who will win a match. You wager on the winner, and you receive the listed payout if that player wins.  

For example: If Carlos Alcaraz (-120) is playing Alexander Zverev (+240) and you pick Alcaraz to win, your payout will be at the rate of -120, as listed next to his name on the betting menu. 

The minus indicates a player is the favorite, and therefore your profit will be slightly less than what you invested. If you bet $100, your total payout if Alcaraz wins this match would be $183.33 ($100 investment plus your $83.33 profit). Conversely, if underdog Zverev wins, your $100 bet would make $240 for a total of $340 payout.

Over/Under

You can also bet on over/unders in tennis; however, unlike other sports that let you bet on the total score, you bet on how many games will be played in tennis. Remember, a player must win at least six games to capture a set (game, set, match). One has to win by at least two games, so if a set is tied at 6–6, then a tiebreaker is played.

Also, remember a match only goes for a max of three sets in women’s tennis and five sets in men’s tennis. So, if you think a match will be competitive, you may want to take the over for the number of games played. If the match seems lopsided with a heavy favorite, you probably want to lean toward the under.

Keep in mind, the fewest possible games played for a completed women’s match would be 12 (6–0, 6–0) and the most, with no tiebreakers, would be 36 (7–5, 5–7, 7–5). On the men’s side, the fewest games would be 18 (6–0, 6–0, 6–0) and the most (no tiebreaks) would be 60 (7–5, 5–7, 7–5, 5–7, 7–5). 

Spread

As in other sports, you can bet on the spread in tennis. Like the over/under example, the spread is based on games. For example: If a spread for the match is set at 4.5, the favorite must win by a combined margin of five games in the match.

You can also bet on individual sets with a game spread of -1.5, much like the runline in baseball. In either event, the favorite will always be indicated with a minus sign, the underdog will be listed with a plus sign, and your payout will be the same as explained in the moneyline example above.

Futures Bets

You can bet on a future outcome, such as who will win the 2024 French Open or who will make it to the quarterfinals, semifinals or finals. These futures bets often present the best value. For example: If Rafael Nadal is +1400 to win Roland Garros today, but along the way, the favorite Alcaraz (+200) gets upset and Nadal is not eliminated, Nadal’s odds will suddenly improve, and you will not have the same chance to grab the 14-to-1 value as you will today. Futures bets are all about timing, and they have the appeal of big payouts.

Prop Bets

These bets can be a lot of fun. Will Iga Świątek have more or fewer than three aces in a given match? Will Alcaraz win the first game vs. Zverev? They are simple propositions that can be either on a player or a game.

Finally, here are a few things to bear in mind when betting on tennis:

Surface

How has the player performed on the surface used in this tournament? There is no better example of why this is important than Nadal’s dominance at the French Open, which is played on clay. At Wimbledon, which is played on grass, Nadal has won twice. He has won at the French Open a record 14 times. Clay courts favor baseline players as the ball is slower and the bounce is higher.  Novak Djokovic is the current French Open champion, defeating Alcaraz in last year's final. On the women’s side, Świątek has won three of the past four French Opens.

For Wimbledon, the surface is grass. This favors players that have a good serve and volley game. In addition to players who have had success at past Wimbledon tournaments, look for value players that have had recent success on any grass surface.

A hard court surface, featured at the U.S. Open and Australian Open, plays somewhere in between.  The undisputed king of the Australian Open is Djokovic, who owns a record 10 titles.   

Novak Djokovic owns a record 10 titles at the Australian Open.  
Novak Djokovic owns a record 10 titles at the Australian Open.   / Mike Frey-USA TODAY Sports

Individual matchups matter

Just like a pitcher vs. a hitter in baseball, individual matchups matter in tennis. Play style is more important than the record. As mentioned above, since Roland Garros favors players with baseline games and big serves, serve and volley players could be at a slight disadvantage despite their better seeding or records. The opposite would be true at Wimbledon, of course. Check into head-to-head records when available. 

Check the draw and schedule

When placing futures bets, don’t forget to check the draw, which typically doesn’t come out until a few days before the start of the tournament. If one side of the bracket has a lot of future favorites while the other doesn’t, consider the value for players on the light side. Also, remember that those who come through the qualifying round will be more warmed up than those who had an automatic bid, and as the tournament progresses, make sure you are aware of who has played a lot of longer matches and could experience fatigue. Remember, it’s all about 1-on-1 matchups in tennis.

Have fun

Of course, the most important part of wagering on tennis is that you enjoy it! Never bet more than you can afford to lose, and don’t be afraid to wager on an occasional underdog. 

Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.

If you or someone you know has a gambling problem and wants help, call 1-800-GAMBLER.





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Jennifer Piacenti

JENNIFER PIACENTI

In addition to being a fantasy sports and betting analyst at Sports Illustrated, Jennifer is a radio host for Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, and she hosts her own podcast, “Waiver Wired” on the Extra Points podcast network. Jennifer has been nominated for multiple FSWA awards for her NFL DFS video series. She’s a Scott Fish Bowl Finalist, and she finished third overall in the 2021 NFFC post-season mini. Jennifer is also a featured expert on MLB Network’s “Bettor’s Eye,” and a member of the esteemed Tout Wars, the fantasy baseball battle of the experts.