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Finding good odds in a Grand Slam tennis tournament

If you want to make good money with a single bet in a tennis tournament, it is essential to find a long-shot type of bet on an underdog player. But there must be a good chance that this player actually comes through. This kind of bet is not easy to find, but here is a way to actually pull it off. Let me give you a bit of background info first.

Have you ever asked yourself why top-seeded players often lose in the first round of a major tennis event? Ok, most of the time it happens for the obvious reason - they had a bad day, and the other guy just played better. But quite often there is a different explanation.

Seeding system and main event prize money

In order to understand the reasons behind some of those "surprise" first-round upsets, there is one thing you need to know: in a Grand Slam event, there are 128 spots in the main draw. Those include 16 spots for the winners of the qualification and 8 players that have been given wild cards. That means that, in theory, the top 104 players from the ATP or WTA rankings go directly into the main draw (assuming all ranked players actually decide to play at that event). For an average ATP or WTA event, the draw has 64 spots, with 4 spots for qualifiers and 4 wild cards, which means that the if you are ranked among the top 56 players, you can be sure to go directly into the main draw.

In a Grand Slam tournament, the prize money for a player who loses his first round match is considerably larger than in an average ATP/WTA event. In an average event, the prize money for a player who loses in the first barely covers the expenses for travel and accommodation, while for example the 2015 Wimbledon tournament pays GBP 29.000,00 to a player who plays the main draw and loses in the first round! That is serious money for a player who is ranked, say, #90 ATP.

It is a common misconception that a #90 ranked tennis player is making a lot of money on the tour - the expenses are high and you have to travel a lot to even get to be ranked #90. That means that a big percentage of the annual net income of any player ranked between #60 and #110 comes from participating in the 4 Grand Slams. All 4 combined, you can expect to make app. $ 100.000 from those events. And even a top ten player would not want to miss chance to make that kind of "easy" money.

Now imagine you are injured, or struggling with bad form, or simply in bad physical shape. Most of the time, you would simply cancel a tournament participation and focus on training to get back in shape. But of course not when a Grand Slam is up, so almost 100% of the top players show up even if they know they won't be able to play their A-game. And that is the exact situation that leads to first-round upsets of seeded players in the first round. They may go through all the motions (they have to, because there are penalties in place for too obvious bad performance), but they also do not mind losing their first match, cash in and go back to training camp.

There is one aspect about the ranking system that you have to take into consideration, though: when a player has, for example, reached the quarterfinals of an event in the previous year, he or she will lose points if he or she gets eliminated earlier in the same tournament in the next year. It would be a good idea to check the performance of that player in the previous year's tournament before betting on a match in which he or she is involved.

So how do you use this to find good spots for high odds betting?

  • Step 1: Find a seeded main draw player (or players) that have been struggling with injuries or bad form previous to a tournament
  • Step 2: Bet on their first round opponent - that should give you good odds
  • Step 3: Since the winner of that first match will be playing an unseeded player next, bet on your player to reach round 3 or even round 4!

The change-of-surface problem

Another possibility is to find a high-ranked player who is a bit of a specialist on a certain type of surface, in a tournament with a totally different surface. Let's take a guy like Marian Cilic - with his big serve, he likes fast surfaces like Wimbledon grass. So he does have a high ranking mainly obtained by winning matches on fast surfaces, but now he is playing a tournament on a slow clay court against a rather unknown guy, who happens to be a clay specialist. Betting on the clay specialist here should be an obvious spot where the actual odds may not reflect reality.

Winning a first round match against a seeded player often gives the underdog a boost that can help him to go on as far as round 4 or even 5 in a tennis tournament. That means that the main obstacle for this underdog is the first match, which is softened if that first round opponent turns out to be weakened by one of the factors mentioned above. Picking such a player and betting on him to go as far as to the last eight may be a clever idea. Don't take this too far though - the competition in the round of the last eight is fierce and good runs often end here!

One of the biggest problems with betting schemes such as those is that you need to find a sportsbook that gives you an option to place a bet like "player XXX to reach round 4".

Bet365 offers this kind of bet as soon as the tournament draw is out, and if it is not offered yet, they give you the option to manually suggest a bet and they will calculate the odds for you! Click here to visit Bet365 - this is the online sportsbook with the widest choice of bets and the best odds.