Sports betting fascinates millions of punters all over the world due to the excitement it sparks and the profit potential it generates. The outcomes of sports events depend on a range of diverse factors. Bookmakers’ odds-compilers are tasked to interpret these factors and represent them as a chance for each team or player to win or lose a particular sports event.

Much like in all other sports disciplines, in tennis, highly-performing players are assigned lower odds, since they stand greater chances of winning in comparison to their lower-ranking opponents. Based on the athletes’ chances to win and their performance, the disparity in their odds could be quite substantial.

Such situations usually offer little value from betting on favorites and consequently, low returns. The underdogs, on the other hand, are assigned higher odds and the potential profits from betting on them are sizable. However, their implied probability to win, in most cases, is quite scarce.

Most punters are probably already aware of the main idea of handicap betting. These types of predictions award a virtual advantage to one of the players in a tennis match. This is the opponent who is regarded as the weaker side. The current publication goes into detail about handicapping, or how bookmakers offer attractive betting opportunities on tennis matches featuring unevenly matched opponents.

Tennis Handicapping Explained

Handicap markets work by applying a positive or a negative handicap on each side of a tennis match. Players who are identified as favorites are assigned negative handicaps, whereas players who are regarded as underdogs are assigned positive handicaps. Handicapping could also be perceived as a virtual result at the beginning of a match. Favorites are supposed to overcome the negative handicaps and underdogs are expected to take advantage of the headstart so that betting on both sides can be successful.

Thanks to handicap markets, betting on both sides of tennis matches becomes far more enjoyable and thrilling, as it levels out the playing field. Depending on the handicap applied, the chances to win for highly-performing and lower-ranking athletes can become practically even, from a betting point of view.

Bookmakers attract more betting action to these markets by giving players positive and negative points in accordance with the expectations for their performance. Yet another important fact to take into consideration is that the odds offered for these markets present more often than not a very good value.

Positive and Negative Handicaps

As we already mentioned, there are two types of handicaps, positive and negative.

Positive handicaps are usually provided to lower-performing tennis players, for example, +2.5, +3.5, and so on. Once the tennis match is over, and the results are known, positive handicaps are added to the player’s final score. Whether the bet wins or loses is determined by the handicap score, i.e. once the actual score is summed up with the virtual score.

Negative handicaps are provided to strongly performing players. They can be disadvantaged by a particular number of games, let us say, -2.5, -3.5, and so on. They need to overcome this disadvantage so that bets placed on them are successful. In such a market, the negative points are subtracted from the actual final score of favorites. The success of the wager depends on the deduction of the negative handicap from the final score.

As we will see from the example of tennis handicap betting markets provided in the following section, bookmakers may sometimes provide underdogs with negative handicaps and favorites with positive ones. However, these odds are adjusted accordingly and they rightfully reflect the probability of the markets.

Odds of Game and Set Handicap Markets and Match Winner Odds

To better illustrate the value that tennis handicap markets offer, we may have a look at some of the listed prices for a match from the French Open Men’s Singles tournament. Holger Rune is playing Stefanos Tsitsipas and tennis betting enthusiasts are welcome to compare some of the odds offered for Match Winner, Game Handicaps, and Set Handicaps markets.

French Open Men Singles
Holger Rune vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas
Match WinnerGame HandicapSet Handicap
H. Rune
odds 4.38
odds 1.22
Holger RuneStefanos TsitsipasHolger RuneStefanos Tsitsipas

If we consider the Match Winner market, most punters interested in this clash would favor Stefanos Tsitsipas, however, odds of 1.22 offer little value and would not generate substantial profits. On the other hand, betting on Holger Rune may be too risky. Handicap markets can be the perfect solution in such a situation, where punters want to back the favorite and still enjoy a reasonable profit.

Tennis Handicap Markets

In this section, we are going to pay closer attention to the types of tennis handicap betting markets – game handicaps and set handicaps. An interesting feature of handicap betting is that punters can win their wagers without their selected player actually winning the match. So, with these markets, they do not predict match winners. Handicap markets are most relevant when betting on tennis matches featuring a clear favorite.

Tennis Game Handicap Markets

If we take into consideration the same tennis match, provided as an example above, we may have a closer look at one of the game handicap markets. A bookmaker has provided a handicap of +3.5 games to Holger Rune. In other words, this athlete has a headstart of 3.5 games. Let us now assume that once this best-of-three-set match is finished, the result is 6-7, 6-5, and 4-6 in favor of Tsitsipas, meaning that he has won 18 games, whereas Rune has won a total of 16 games.

After applying the +3.5 game handicap on Rune, the virtual result is in his favor (16+3.5=19.5), as opposed to Tsitsipas’ total of 18 games. Though the real match result is in favor of Tsitsipas, the winner of the game handicap market in this case is Rune.

Tennis Set Handicap Markets

Similar to game handicap markets, set handicap markets work by allotting positive handicaps to lower-ranking players and negative handicaps to superior-ranking ones. This again allows bettors to bet on both sides of tennis matches and level out the playing ground between unevenly matched opponents. Set betting is far more intriguing when there is a Grand Slam event ahead in the betting program. This is due to the best-of-five-set format, which is reserved for men’s matches in the highest-ranking competitions in the world of tennis.

However, set handicap markets can be equally intriguing for best-of-three-sets events. This is particularly true for matches where punters think the underdog is capable of winning a single set but does not stand a good chance of winning the whole match.

If we get back again to our example, we may have a look at a Set Handicap market where Holger Rune is awarded a positive handicap of +1.5. It means that if this player is victorious in one or two sets in the match, the wager would be a winning one. To lose this bet, Tsitsipas would have to become a straight-set winner.

Pros and Cons of Tennis Handicap Betting

Much like the other strategies that can be applied to tennis betting, handicapping has its undeniable benefits and drawbacks. We have covered the main ones in the table below.

Tennis Handicap Betting
More attractive odds compared to standard Match Winner marketsCan be hard to grasp by novice bettors
A more exciting way to bet on favorites. Profiting from underdogs is more probable compared to Match winner markets.Requires sound understanding of the factors impacting the outcomes of tennis matches
As an individual sport, players’ abilities in tennis are of vital importance. Handicapping levels out both sides of a match, thus bringing about a more thrilling betting environment.


Tennis handicap betting remains among the most enjoyable and popular markets that punters love to explore. Besides the excitement that these bet types bring to tennis betting, they have the potential to boost your winnings considerably. In a way, this betting technique brings about a more balanced betting environment.

To implement handicapping successfully into their tennis betting strategy, punters are supposed to have extensive knowledge of the players, their form, playing style, current performance, and preferred playing surface, among other factors. What is more, to utilize the full potential of handicapping in tennis, we would be interested in tennis matches characterized by opponents of uneven qualities. Compared to Match Winner markets, tennis handicapping is not that straightforward. Given the odds, tennis handicap mechanisms are worth the time and effort that punters would invest in exploring them.

The playing field between opponents of different talents and abilities can be difficult or even impossible to even out on the court, but not on the betting scene, thanks to handicap markets. is a media website dedicated to sports news and reviews of the most popular sports betting sites. Here you will find comprehensive guides on where to bet on football, tennis, NBA, NFL and information about the most popular betting deposit methods.