Overall, the scoring system in tennis uses three different units. As described above, the match is divided into several sets. The sets are made up of multiple consecutive service games. These service games are further subdivided into individual points.
The point represents the smallest scoring unit in tennis. It is awarded to the winner of the respective rally. After a correct serve, you and your opponent have the task of hitting the tennis ball into the valid court.
This court is delimited on both sides by the net, the two sidelines and the baseline.
In doubles, the tennis court expands with the outer sidelines.
The rally continues until one of you is not able to bring the ball back into the opponent’s court. So you win a point if
- Your opponent hits the ball into the net,
- Your opponent hits the ball out of bounds,
- or the ball bounces more than once on the opposing side.
Each service game consists of a series of points played. Simply said, you need four points to win a service game. But we count these points using a different system:
- No points played: 0-0
- 1st point won: 15-0
- 2nd point won: 30-0
- 3rd point won: 40-0
- 4th point won: Game
With this system, the score of the server is always given first. For example, if you are a server and you have two points and your opponent has only one, the score is 30-15, but if your opponent has two points and you have only one, the score is 15-30.
Note, however, that to win a service game, you must have a lead at least a two points. This special case occurs when you both have three points each and the score is 40-40. This score is called “deuce”. In this case, you need two points in a row to win the game.
If you win another point on your own serve, you have the so-called “advantage”. This means that you are only one point away from winning the game. The score is now called “ad in”.
If your opponent has an advantage, the score is called “ad out”. If a player loses the following rally with his own advantage, the game goes back to “deuce”.
After a player wins the service game, the serve becomes the returner and vice versa. So you take turns with your opponent on serve. In addition, you change sides after every odd service game. This means that you change sides after the 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, etc. etc. game.
The set is the result of several successive service games. In general you need 6 won service games to win a set. For example, if you win 6 games and your opponent only 2, the set goes 6-2 to you.
Additionally, you need to have a lead of at least 2 games over your opponent. Sometimes it is not possible to keep this lead. There are certain special rules for this.
If you and your opponent each win 5 games, the score is 5-5. In this constellation, the set can be decided if one of you wins the next 2 service games. Then the set goes 7-5 to the respactive winner.
At a score of 6-6 a so-called “tiebreak” is played. This is a special service game in which you need 7 points to win the tiebreaker and therefore the set. However, the points are not counted with 15, 30 and 40, but with the normal numbers 1, 2, 3, etc.
In principle, the player that was the returner in the game before the tiebreak starts serving now. For example, if your opponent has finished his service game at 6-6, you begin in the tiebreaker with your own serve. After the first point, the serve changes.
In this case, your opponent then has the serve on the next two points. Afterwards you get two serves, then your opponent again and so on. The serve change takes place after the first point at a distance of two points.
Furthermore, you both change sides after every 6 points played. During the change of sides there is no break. You continue playing until one of you has scored 7 points. The difference of two points is also important here. For example, a score of 7-7 would go at least to 9 points.
Once the tiebreaker has been decided, it is noted as 7-6 for the winner. The score of the loser is Always indicated in brackets. If you have won the tiebreak with 7-4 points, the result is therefore noted as 7-6 (4).
A special version of the normal tiebreak is the “match tiebreak”. The only difference to the standard variant is that you need 10 points to win the match tiebreaker instead of 7 points.
On international level it is mainly used in doubles, i.e. in the men’s, women’s and mixed doubles. In case of a tie in sets, no complete deciding set is played, but only the match tiebreak. The main reason for the introduction of this tiebreak was the significant reduction of the playing time.
5th Set Tiebreak
In general, there are some exceptions in the 5th set of a men’s singles at Grand Slam tournaments.
At the Australian Open, at a score of 6-6, you don’t play a normal tiebreak to 7, but a match tiebreak to 10 points.
The French Open is the only one of the four tournaments not to have a tiebreaker. Instead, a lead of at least two service games is necessary.
In Wimbledon, the tiebreak takes place at the score of 12-12, but this is typically played up to 7 points.
The US Open handle the topic relatively simply. Just like in the other sets, the tiebreaker is used at 6-6 and is played up to 7 points.
With the partly new rules, one would like to limit matches to a certain time limit and in this way protect the players. Then the well-known marathon matches, such as the longest tennis match ever between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut, will no longer be possible.