Scoring Formats for Professional Tennis

Tennis Scoring pic

Tennis Scoring

Allen Fitzsimmons has served as chief executive officer of Transitioning Forward in Belchertown, Massachusetts, since 2013. When not leading the inventory appraisal operation, Allen Fitzsimmons enjoys playing tennis and is a USPTA-certified teacher.

While the scoring format for tennis matches can vary from tournament to tournament, most competitions around the world challenge male and female players to contest best-of-three-set matches. Sets are awarded to the first player to win six games with a margin of at least two games. A set in which players tie at six games is traditionally settled by a seven-point tiebreaker.

There are several exceptions and variations to this scoring structure. The Australian Open, Roland Garros, Wimbledon, and the US Open feature best-of-five-set matches for men. With the exception of the US Open, these tournaments do not feature a fifth-set tiebreaker, meaning players must continue to compete until a two-game advantage has been achieved. In 2010, John Isner defeated Nicholas Mahut at Wimbledon by a score of 70 games to 68 in the final set. Davis Cup, an international team competition, also features best of five-set matches but has adopted a fifth-set tiebreaker as of 2016.

Female tennis players continue to contest best-of-three-set matches at the sport’s four major events, though they also must secure a two-game margin of victory in deciding sets. In 2011, Italy’s Francesca Schiavone defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova 16-14 in the third set of their fourth-round Australian Open match.


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