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How to bet the winner of the current set in a tennis match

One of the options of in-game betting during a tennis match is placing a bet on who will win the current set. Let's take a look at the factors involved, as well as the different phases and how they influence your betting pick.

First of all, for this kind of bet, it is important that you have watched the match at least for a while in order to make an informed decision. I suggest to wait at least until both players have finished their first two service games. At this point, if one of them has broken the other guy's serve once already and seems to have no problems winning his own service games, betting on this player to win the set makes perfect sense. Of course you will not get very good odds at this point.

A real good spot for a more profitable bet would be a situation where either a) both players ahve won their serves, but one player has come close to winning a break, while he has been dominating with his own serve; or b) when a player is one break down but has done very well during the other guy's serve. In both situations, you will get better odds for a bet.

What to look out for during the service games

Of course it is important to know whose first serve seems to work very well - a strong first serve with a high percentage of success is a great weapon. But every player will occasionally have a game where less of his first serves are in. That said, you should watch out for the percentage of second serve points won by the return player. Statistics for this are often not available, but most of the time, you will see info about "% of second serve points won" for the player who serves. Obviously, the lower the percentage is, the better the returning player is doing. When this percentage is as low as app. 50% or even lower, a break is to be expected as soon as the server's first service percentage goes down.

It is the return that counts

The aforementioned statistics do not tell the whole story. Everyone can read those, bet accordingly and hope for the best. What you really need to do is look at the quality of the returns by both players. Observing whether they have good balance while executing their returns, or whether they are hitting back or just "blocking" will give you valuable info. 

The quality of a return can basically be judged by one single factor: does the return eliminate the natural advantage that the serve gives to the serving player or not? A good return does not necessarily have to be spectacular, nor does it have to win the point right away. It does have to have depth though - this is one details that you have to watch out for. Also, when the serve is directed outwards (cross), the return should almost never be hit down the line, because this would open the whole court for the serving player's next shot.

The depth-of-shot factor is relative though. If the serving player is following a serve-and-volley strategy, the return has to be adapted as well. A shot that would go deep and close to the baseline is not a good solution because the ball would be high and thus, easy prey for a player with a good volley. Here, a good return would be a shot that forces the attacker to hit the first volley a) not to close to the net (meaning the return player has to take the serve early), or b) a shot that forces the attacker to hit his own ball below net level, making it more difficult to hit an aggressive volley, or of course c) a return that is so well placed that it is out of reach for the serve-and volley player.

Different phases of the game

The info above wil be of great help during the first set. When you try to find a good profitable bet during the second or third set, it is important to remember how both players performed during the previous sets, especially at crucial times, like when the score was 3:3, 4:4 etc. This is the point when sets are being decided. You will often see players performing well up to that point, but after that one player seems to simply have a small advantage over the other guy. 

In matches that are generally very tough, the chance that the player who lost the first set will win the second is always rather high. It is also true that the player who has come back from losing the first by winning the second will have a substantial advantage in the third set.

As always, the key to successfully betting the winner of a set in a tennis match depends very much on your own power of observation!