Deuce In Tennis: Definition, Origin & Examples

For people new to the game of tennis, deuce is one of those words that get thrown around a lot. However, it might be a little bit difficult to understand at first, and even seasoned players might need a little bit of brushing up on what it means.

What is a deuce in tennis? When each side scores three points in a game, the score is 40-40, otherwise known as deuce. A player must win by two points in each game to win the game, so each additional tie after that is also referred to as a deuce.

What Happens After Deuce?

Whoever wins the next point has the advantage in the game (AD=Advantage). If it is the server, it is referred to as an ad-in. If it is the returner, it is known as ad-out. If the person in the lead wins the next point, they win the game.

If the person who is trailing wins the next point, it goes back to deuce. A deuce point always occurs on the right side for both the server and the returner.

ScorePlayer APlayer B
Point 1015
Point 21515
Point 33030
Point 43040
Point 5 (Deuce!)4040
Point 640AD
Point 700 (+1 Game)

Some people will incorrectly call 30-30 “deuce.” While it is technically wrong, the same concept does apply, which is why there is no real need to correct someone in a recreational level match. With the tie score, a person still has to win the next two points to win the game.

Is There An Unlimited Amount of Deuces?

Yes, there is an unlimited amount of deuces in tennis until a person wins the game by two points. There are some instances where a single game can last a very long time, as the game goes to 10 or more deuces. It is very time-consuming to do this, and the server can sometimes feel like they are worn out after the fact.

Here’s one example:

ScorePlayer APlayer B
Point 1015
Point 21515
Point 33030
Point 43040
Point 5 (Deuce!)4040
Point 640AD
Point 7 (Deuce!)4040
Point 8AD40
Point 9 (Deuce!)4040
Point 1040AD
Point 700 (+1 Game)

As far as professional records are concerned, there were once 37 deuces in a single game of play in a professional match. This happened in 1975 at the Surrey Grass Court Championships, as Anthony Fossett in Keith Glass battled it out for a total of 80 points in that game alone. In that match, several other games reached deuce.

There is a variation of tennis where there is no ad scoring. In this type of play, once the game reaches deuce, a final point is played to determine the game-winner. The receiver gets to pick where the server serves from, and that point is played out normally. In some situations, adding this wrinkle can significantly speed up how the match is going.

A lot of people see this type of play if there is a limited amount of time to get a match in. Otherwise, there is just too much randomness involved with the one point that it can frustrate a lot of people. No one wants to win a game just because of one lucky point, as winning by two more clearly demonstrates who the better player is.

What Player Has The Advantage To Win a Game That Goes To Deuce?

The serving player in tennis almost always has the advantage over their opponent. They can dictate points with the first shot and ultimately win the game. The types of serves they can hit helps dictate the advantage. Servers statistically always have the advantage.

Also, the deuce court is on the right-hand side, but the game itself will be won or lost on the left. That’s why people believe that left-handed players, or right-handed players with very strong backhands, have the advantage over their opponent. In actuality, it usually comes down to much more than that. However, there is something to be said for being comfortable.

Consistency also plays a huge role in being able to have success when a game reaches deuce. There are times when people get tense when the match is close, and that’s not going to be the best way to execute at all. Too many people feel like they get a little too overwhelmed, and they can’t perform during the biggest moments.

Mentally strong players are usually the ones who excel the most in these types of situations. Being able to trust the body to really see what happens is a major focal point for a lot of different players out there. While others try to switch things up when the match is close, those who trust what they can do will usually have the most amount of success.

Where Does The Term Deuce Come From?

Deuce comes from the French word “Deux,” which means two. Although that might not make much sense by itself, it indicates that a player needs to win two points to win the game. It’s one of a number of examples of phrases used in tennis, but nowhere else in sports.

Deuce: The Turning Point In Tennis

Games that go to deuce always seem to turn into major turning points in a match. Those who can execute and win the next two points will have the upper hand on the opposition.

It’s a battle that a lot of players have to face internally, but it’s one that usually is as compelling as they come.

Fred Simonsson

I'm Fred, the guy behind TennisPredict. Apart from writing here, I play tennis on a semi-professional level and coach upcoming talents.

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