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Analyzing WimbledonThe Power of Statistics$

Franc Klaassen and Jan R. Magnus

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199355952

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199355952.001.0001

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(p.222) (p.223) A Tennis rules and terms

(p.222) (p.223) A Tennis rules and terms

Analyzing Wimbledon
Oxford University Press

In this appendix we briefly summarize the rules of tennis and provide a glossary of some tennis terms used in this book that may not be familiar to all readers. The International Tennis Federation (ITF) is the governing body of tennis and determines the Rules of Tennis. The latest Rules can be downloaded from the ITF website (www.itftennis.com). A more elaborate overview of tennis terminology is available on many websites.

Tennis rules

A match consists of sets, a set consists of games, and a game consists of points. A singles match is contested between two players. The server of the first game is decided by a coin toss. Thereafter, each successive game is served by the other player.

At the beginning of each point one player, the server, hits the ball to the opponent, the receiver. When the service is a fault, the server hits a second service. When the second service is also a fault, the server loses the point. When the first or second service is in, the rally begins. The rally ends when a player fails to hit the ball into the correct court before it bounces twice consecutively, in which case that player loses the point.

A game is finished when one player wins at least four points with a difference of at least two points. The points are counted as 0 (‘love’), 15, 30, 40 (rather than as 0, 1, 2, 3). When the score is a tie at 40-all, it is called ‘deuce’. When the server wins (or loses) the point after deuce, it is advantage to the server (or receiver). When the player with advantage wins the next point he/she wins the game; otherwise the score is deuce again.

(p.224) A tiebreak is a special type of game. It is won when a player reaches at least seven points and has a lead of two or more points. In contrast to standard games, points in a tiebreak are counted 0, 1, 2, … The player who received in the preceding game serves first in the tiebreak. After the first point the service alternates every two points.

A set is finished when one player wins at least six games with a difference of at least two games. When the score reaches 6-6, either the set continues until a two-game difference is achieved or it is decided by a tiebreak, depending on tournament rules. In the latter case the possible winning scores in a set are: 6-0, 6-1, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4, 7-5, or 7-6.

A match consists of a maximum of three or five sets. Women’s matches are always best-of-three sets whereas men’s matches are either best-of-three or best-of-five, depending on tournament rules.

Tennis terms

  • Ace: Service where the ball is served in and not touched by the receiver.

  • Ad court: Left side of the court of each player, so called because the ‘ad’ (‘advantage’) point is served to this side of the court. See also deuce court.

  • Advantage: Score in a game where a player has won the point at deuce and therefore needs one more point to win the game.

  • Break (of service): Game won by the receiving player.

  • Break back: See rebreak.

  • Breakpoint: Point which, if won by the receiver, results in a break of service.

  • Challenge: Protest where a player requests an official review of the spot where the ball has landed, using electronic ball-tracking technology; see Hawk-Eye. Challenges are only available in some tournaments and at some courts.

  • Deuce: Score of 40-40 in a game.

  • (p.225) Deuce court: Right side of the court of each player, so called because at deuce the point is served to this side of the court.

  • Double fault: Two service faults in a row within one point, causing the player serving to lose the point.

  • Doubles: Matches played by four players, two on each side.

  • Final set: Third set in a best-of-three match; fifth set in a best-of-five match.

  • Gamepoint: Score where the server needs one more point to win the game. See also breakpoint.

  • Grand slam: The grand slam tournaments are the four major tournaments in a calendar year: the Australian Open, the French Open (or Roland Garros), Wimbledon, and the US Open.

  • Hawk-Eye: Computer system connected to cameras to track the path of the ball for replay purposes.

  • Hold (service): To win the game when serving. Compare break.

  • In: A ball is in if, after leaving the racket, it first hits the correct court. For example, a service is in if the ball first hits the service court diagonally opposite.

  • Matchpoint: Score where a player needs one more point to win the match.

  • Rally: Following the service, a series of hits that ends when the point is decided.

  • Ranking (world ranking): Official ordering of players, updated weekly, based on the number of points he or she accrued during the past year. The best player is ranked number one.

  • Rebreak: To win a game as the receiving player immediately after losing the previous game as the serving player.

  • Receiver: Player who is being served to.

  • (p.226) Seed: Highly-ranked player whose position in a tournament has been arranged based on his/her ranking so as not to meet other highly-ranked players in the early rounds of play. For a given tournament there is a specified number of seeds, depending on the size of the draw. For ATP/WTA tournaments, typically one out of four players are seeds.

  • Server: Player who is serving.

  • Service (serve): Every point begins with a serve where the server attempts to hit the ball over the net into the service court diagonally opposite.

  • Service court: On each side of the net there are two service courts: left and right. These are boxes bounded by the singles side-lines, the serviceline, and the center serviceline.

  • Service game: With regard to a player, the game in which the player is serving (e.g., ‘player I won a service game on love’ means that I won a game where (s)he was serving without the opponent scoring a point).

  • Setpoint: Score where a player needs one more point to win a set.

  • Singles: Matches played by two players, one on each side.

  • Tiebreak: Special game played when the score is 6-6 in a set to decide the winner of the set.

  • Toss: Before the beginning of a match a coin is tossed, usually by the umpire. The toss decides the choice of ends and the choice to be server or receiver in the first game.

  • Unseeded player: Player who is not a seed in a tournament.

  • Winning mood: Mental condition of a player after being successful in the preceding points or games, possibly leading to a higher probability of being successful at the current point.