How Do Scores Work In Tennis?

How do scores work in tennis? Tennis scoring can seem complicated at first, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll feel like a seasoned fan. But learning how to tally the points, and to keep track of the score during a fast-paced match, can seem daunting if you are a beginner. Read on, and you’ll understand and keep up with the game in no time

A tennis match is composed of points, games and sets. A set consists of a number of games. The minimum number of games in a set is 6, which intends that 1 player won all 6 games. Each game consist of points. A set is won by the first side to win 6 games. The winner is the side that wins more than half of the sets. The match ends as soon as this is achieved.

The Scoring System

How do scores work in tennis?

How do scores really work in tennis? If you win the first point, you must announce the score at your next serve: “15–love”. Love is equal to zero, and 15 equals one point. The server always announces their own score first, for example if the server lose the first point, then the score is love-15. Additional points are counted in increments of 15 up to 30, then the next point is scored as 10. It doesn’t make any sense at all, I know. The score for every game is 15-30-40 and if you win a point after 40 you have won 1 game.

Two point advantage

In tennis you always have to win by 2 points. So if the score is 40-40 and you win the next point, you haven’t won the game yet. Instead you have “advantage” (AD – 40). If you win the next point again, then you have won your game. That’s why some games seem to go on forever. Until one player achieves a two-point advantage, the game will go on and potentially go on forever. But, that’s also what makes tennis so exciting. Once you have won six games, you’ve won a set. But, wait, you are far from finished!

How Many Games In a Tennis Match?

A tennis player must win six games to win a set, but he must win the set by at least two games. If a set gets to 5-5, a player must win 7-5 to win the set outright. If the score in a set gets to 6-6, a tiebreak is played. Tiebreaks are the penalty shoot-outs of tennis, though actually the system makes a much better job of reflecting the play so far in a match. In the tiebreak you play first to 7 points and points are numbered like 1,2,3,4 exc. The same applies here, if the score is 6-6 someone need to win with 2 points, like 8-6. Whoever wins the tiebreak, wins the set 7-6.

How Many Sets?

The number of sets that you play in a tennis match differ a lot. However, the majority of matches are played best of three sets. So the set score can end 2-0, or 2-1. However, many professional tournaments are playing best of five sets. In some smaller tournaments they play 2 sets and if the set score is 1-1, it goes to a final tiebreaker, first to 10 points.

What Is This Strange Scoring System Coming From?

There is no official source on who invented the scoring system and why the scoring system are using the non logical, 15,30,40 system. However, there are som good theories that makes sense and that I strongly believe in.

One of the most trustworthy theories of the origins of the 15, 30, and 40 scores are coming from the medieval  French. It’s possible that a clock face was used on court. On each score the pointer moved round a quarter, from 0 to 15, 30, 45 and on 60 the game was over.

In order to ensure that the game could not be won by a one point difference. The idea of “deuce” was introduced. To make the score stay within  the 60 ticks on the clock face, the 45 was changed to 40. Therefore, if both players have 40, the first player to score receives ten, which moves the clock to 50. If the player scores a second time before the opponent is able to score, they are awarded another ten and the clock moves to 60. The 60 signifies the end of the game. However, if a player fails to score twice in a row, then the clock would move back to 40 to  establish another “deuce“.


Also, read our article about tennis shoes on different surfaces.

Fred Simonsson

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

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