The Tennis Scoring System

Let’s have a close look at the tennis scoring system for all the readers that are not 100% familiar with it yet!

The scoring system in Tennis generally consists of points, games, and sets. You have to accumulate points to win games and then you have to accumulate games to win sets.

Tennis matches are usually played in best of three or best of five sets. In a best of three set match, the player that first wins two sets wins the match. In a best of five set match it is the player that first accumulates three sets that wins the match!

Tennis Scoring: Games

Every single point that you win counts towards winning the current game that is being played. In any given game your score can be either: 0, 15, 30, or 40. These scores are accumulative. This means that if you have won 2 points in the current game your score is 30. If you have won 3 points in the current game then your score is 40.

Both players have a score so that the overall game score will be something like 15:30 for example. The servers score is always reported first. So in the 15:30 example the server has 15 and the returner has 30.

Let’s have a look at an example game:

Server wins the first point
Score: 15-0
Server wins second point
Score: 30-0
Returner wins third point
Score 30-15
Server wins fourth point
Score: 40-15
Server wins fifth point

Game goes to the server!

Advantage Scoring

In regular advantage scoring, a player needs to win two points in a row once the score reaches 40-40. 40-40 is usually called deuce in tennis language. The player that wins a point at 40-40, or deuce, gets advantage. You can now only win the game if you have advantage and win another point.

If you loose the point at advantage then the score goes back to deuce! This continues until one player scores while having advantage and sometimes games can last a very long time if they get back to deuce very often!

Ad-Court and Deuce-Court

When you are serving from the right side of the court this is called the deuce-court in tennis language. This is of course because whenever the score is deuce you serve from this side. If you serve from the left side it is called serving from the ad-court because advantage points are played on this side!


With no-ad scoring rules, the game is decided once deuce or 40-40 is reached. The receiving player gets to decide on which side (deuce or ad side) he wants to receive serve and whoever wins that point wins the game. No-ad scoring is currently used in professional doubles matches but not in professional singles matches!

Tennis Scoring: Sets

In order to win a set in the tennis scoring system, you have to win 6 games. If both opponents have 5 games though, then the set will go to 7. The final score of a set can be 6-4 or 6-3 but it cannot be 6-5. Once the score in the set reaches 5-5 it can then only be decided either 7-5 or 7-6. At 6-6 a so-called tiebreak is usually being played.


If the score reaches 6-6, a set will be decided in a so-called tiebreak will be played. The idea of the tiebreak for the tennis scoring system is to control the length of tennis matches and to avoid sets that last too long. The tiebreak was invented in 1965 and slowly but surely gained popularity in order to avoid tennis matches that were simply too long for the players as well as the spectators!

In a tiebreak the goal is to reach a score of 7 points first. Points are simply added up in a tiebreak. Player 1 starts serving from the deuce court and gets to play the first point on serve. After that Player 2 serves for two points and now serves alternate every two points until one player wins the tiebreak. Again you can win a tiebreak 7-5 but not 7-6 for example. Once 6-6 is reached you have to win by two points!

Let’s look at an example tiebreak:

Player 1 starts serving from deuce court and wins the point
Score: 1-0 (Player 1′s point of view)
Player 2 serves from ad court and wins point
Score: 1-1
Player 2 serves again, now from the deuce court and wins point
Score: 1-2 (Player 1′s point of view)

Now Player 1 serves again, first from the ad court and then from the deuce court. This system continues until the tiebreak is over!

Grand Slam Rules

Three out of the four major tournaments in Tennis (the Grand Slams) do not have a tiebreak in the tennis scoring system of the fifth and final set of a match. Only at the US Open does the tennis scoring system call for a tiebreak in the fifth and final set!

Therefore matches can last very long at the other three majors! A great example is the 2010 Wimbledon first-round match between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut which ended being the longest match in tennis history. The final set was decided with a score of 70-68 for John Isner. The match took over 11 hours of playing time!

Announcing Score

If there is no umpire then it is the server?s responsibility to announce the score before every point. The server announces his score first. So he would say 40-30 for example if he has is serving from the ad-court and has a game point. In friendly matches though the score is often only announced every now and then to make sure both players have the same score in mind!

So hopefully this was a good explanation of the tennis scoring system for you!

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