The tennis season begins in January and runs through to November with a hectic and punishing schedule culminating in the end-of-season finals. Four Grand Slams take place throughout the course of the year and these are also commonly referred to as 'majors'.
This high-profile quartet is enjoyed by tennis fans worldwide and has provided some of the most-talked-about and memorable moments in the sport's history. Ante-post betting is incredibly popular ahead of Grand Slam events and outright markets are generally available for these tournaments all-year round.
The four Grand Slam events are spread throughout the calendar:
1) Australian Open (January)
2) French Open (May)
3) Wimbledon (June/July)
4) US Open (August/September)
Betting on Grand Slams
There are a number of differences between Grand Slam events and standard ATP or WTA tournaments. Men's matches are played over five sets, which not only means the majority of games are much longer in duration but they also provide in-play betting opportunities.
Top 50 players have the tendency to make slow starts to games in Grand Slams (particularly the Australian Open) but the extended format affords them plenty of opportunities to mount a fightback and turn the match in their favour.
Savvy tennis bettors have found that backing favourites at a set down is a profitable way of tackling Grand Slam markets. Top players are often fitter and sharper and, despite falling behind, they are still able to outlast their opponent and subsequently progress to the next round.
Lucrative prizes are on offer for those who reach the latter stages of each of the four Grand Slam tournaments and many competitive and closely-fought matches are likely to take place. Straight-sets victories are slightly less common in these events and this undoubtedly helps punters who play the over/under games markets.
Grand Slams are played on a variety of surfaces and knowing how each player is affected by this is an essential part of successful tennis betting. We profile each of the four events and focus on the important aspects and key elements that should be considered before placing bets on any of the majors.
The season gets underway with the Australian Open, which takes place in Melbourne and is contested across the final two weeks of January. It is the largest annual sporting event in the Southern Hemisphere and is played on speedy outdoor hard courts which tends to favour big-hitters. Short rallies are the norm and powerful players tend to have an advantage.
This tournament does have the ability to throw up a few surprises, although Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic have dominated this event over the past decade.
Fitness is the biggest factor in Melbourne and, before placing any bets on the tournament, it's always advised to check how your chosen player ended the previous season. Warm-up tournaments such as the Brisbane International and the Hobart International are also terrific indicators and can be extremely helpful, especially when backing players during the early rounds.
Players who do not participate in these events tend to struggle to acclimatise to the often-sweltering conditions and that increases the possibility of an early exit. On the men's side, in particular, punters should look for players who have played the fewest sets and any competitor who has benefited from a walkover or early withdrawal should be backed in the next round.
The second slam on the calendar is the French Open, which takes place at the Stade Roland Garros in Paris and gets underway at the end of May. It is the only one of the quartet that is staged on the clay courts, often leading to long, energy-sapping rallies.
This slow surface tends to favour Spanish and South American players and must be considered as one of the most important betting angles. Generally speaking, players growing up in these regions are taught on clay courts and, having been raised on the red stuff, they are very accomplished and are extremely familiar with the steady pace of play.
Rafa Nadal is known as the 'King of Clay' and, as of 2018, 11 of the last 15 winners of this tournament have come from either Spain or South America, with the Majorcan being responsible for nine of those successes. In the opening couple of rounds, it could be worth siding with players hailing from these regions, especially if they are competing against opponents who boast unremarkable figures on this surface.
Whilst the gap has seemingly narrowed between clay-specialists and the rest of the pack, there is a still a clear distinction so meticulously studying players' form on this surface is advantageous and single-handedly the most important betting factor in Paris.
Wimbledon is one of the highlights of the sporting calendar and is generally considered to be the ultimate tennis Grand Slam. It is played on the grass courts of SW19 at the end of June. It is quite a short turnaround from the French Open and the grass swing is one of the shortest stages, which often results in very little time for preparation.
The courts are always in pristine condition and this allows speedy play, which favours the big-hitters and powerful servers. Milos Raonic has had relative success at the event but has been unable to match those exploits elsewhere. The Canadian is famed for his strength and ability to overpower opponents.
Wimbledon produces the highest number of aces of any tournament and this tends to result in fewer unforced errors. As a result, shorter matches are common, especially in the opening couple of rounds.
The dominance of the big four cannot be underestimated at this tournament whilst on the women's side, Serena Williams has been hugely successful in West London, taking advantage of the natural zip provided by the grass courts.
Due to time restrictions, there are a limited number of grass-court tournaments during the run-up to Wimbledon. Players who have enjoyed success at Queens, Nottingham, Eastbourne or Hertogenbosch can always be relied upon to progress well in the third slam of the season.
Some players specialise on the grass courts and, similar to the aforementioned French Open, bettors should never underestimate players who have a preference for this surface.
The final slam of the year takes place at Flushing Meadows in New York and is staged on the hard courts. The US Open is a unique tournament, which stipulates that the two players must enter a tie-break in the deciding set. Players who have the stamina and those who possess a decent tie-break record should always be favoured in the betting.
Fitness can play a huge part in this event and this particular tournament is synonymous with upsets. The 2014 final between Marin Cilic and Kei Nishikori is an example of underdogs prevailing, whilst, just 12 months later, Flavia Pennetta and Roberta Vinci met in the final for an unexpected all-Italian final. Don't be afraid to back the outsiders in the US Open as this event is highly likely to throw up a few surprises along the way.
The gruelling season can take its toll on some of the top players, resulting in some surprise early exits. Punishing schedules can also lead to sloppy errors on the court, which regularly leads to longer matches taking place. This is always something to factor in.
Most players have the ability to compete on the hard courts but very few can cope with the hectic schedule, which places heavy demands on the body. Don't assume that all of the top ten players are automatically going to progress to the latter stages.
Although plenty of research is always advised, there are clear betting trends and angles that punters should consider before betting on any of the four Grand Slams. The surface plays a significant part and should always be factored into ante-post punts. There are also a number of notable differences between each of the majors and its position in the tennis calendar can also have a significant impact on the outcome.
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*