Tennis Betting: How To Handicap Tennis Surfaces



When you are betting on tennis matches, a number of different variables come into play. One of them is the surface on which the match is played. Obviously, some matches are more likely to be won by certain players not because of the surface, but because of the quality of the players involved. When the difference in talent is not overwhelming, what can you rely on to bet more effectively and accurately?

Clay

The players who do well on clay have very consistent groundstrokes which don’t break down under pressure and are less prone to making errors. Players who can hit heavy topspin, generate consistent depth, and patiently construct points are the players in the best position to win on clay. Players who are excellent defenders and elite masters of resetting points to neutral from a defensive position are also ahead of the game on clay.

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic most naturally fit this identity among men’s tennis players. They are relentlessly consistent. They both hit a heavy ball. They both defend better than anyone else in men’s tennis. You would be foolish to pick against them on almost any surface in almost any situation, but especially on clay. On the women’s side, Simona Halep has very clearly established herself as a top clay-court player. Elina Svitolina has won the Rome clay Premier 5 tournament each of the past two years and is very hard to outlast on clay. Garbine Muguruza seems to lose her shots and lack precision on fast hardcourts, but on clay, she keeps doing well. She won the French Open three years ago with her ability to stretch for shots from defensive positions. She made the semis last year before Halep beat her.

Grass

The fast and slick nature of grass, even a thicker and slower version of grass you see at Wimbledon each year, leads to quicker rallies, more offensive tennis, and more net play. Having a huge serve is a bigger weapon on grass than the other surfaces. It doesn’t guarantee wins, but it certainly guarantees a lot of service holds, which means a lot of tiebreakers, which means that if you are betting the over-under in the number of games played, grass is the surface where taking the over will be a better bet than on other surfaces.

Players who can serve extremely accurately; own a very effective low slice; and are expert attacking players are the ones who win on grass. Roger Federer is the ultimate example, but Novak Djokovic is a very strong offensive player when he needs to be. He is not just a defensive specialist. He is a complete player, better than Nadal on lawns. Kevin Anderson made the Wimbledon final last year with a huge serve and a clutch forehand which hit a lot of winners on points when Anderson didn’t hit an ace or a service winner.

Serena Williams is the foremost women’s player on grass, but Angelique Kerber’s lefty serve on grass has won her a lot of free points in recent years at Wimbledon.

Hardcourts

The most common surface in modern tennis is generally slower than grass and faster than clay, so this weeds out a lot of the clay or grass specialists you see on tour, such as Marco Cecchinato (clay) and Gilles Muller (grass). Hardcourts provide a consistent, medium-height bounce, which means the players who time the ball the best will succeed here. This favors the elite players. The medium pace of hardcourts also means the fittest athletes and the greatest warriors will also win: Djokovic, Nadal, Kei Nishikori, Marin Cilic, Kerber, Sloane Stephens, Naomi Osaka – they all fit in here.