Tennis may be a popular game, but nobody can deny that
it has one of the most bizarre scoring systems. Tennis players
score on games, sets and match, in that order. The match is won
when either player wins the most number of sets. A players wins
a set when one wins most number of games in a set. Finally, a
game is won when a players wins the most number of points in
To start a game of tennis, either one of the players has to serve
first. To win a game a player needs to win a minimum of four
points in the game. The game starts off with both the players
each having a score of 0-0 or “Love”, ‘the word ‘love’ denoting
the score 0. The next corresponding scores are in the order of
15, 30, 40 and Game Point. The scoring system is such, that
the serving player’s score is always mentioned first. Like, a score
of 40-30 implies that the serving player is at point 40 and his
opponent at 30. If the serving player wins another point, then
he gets to win the game, with the score at Game-30. However, if
his opponent wins the next point, then both the scores are tied
at 40-40 and this is called a “Deuce”. In such cases, either of the
players has to beat the other by two consecutive points to win
the game. If any of the players wins the next point, he is said
to be at “Advantage”. If the player at “Advantage” also wins the
next corresponding point he wins the game, else the scoreline
goes back to being “Deuce”. This goes on, till a player defeats his
opponent from the “Advantage” position. A “Break point” refers
to the final point needed for a non-serving player to win a game.
Trivia: It is said that tennis scoring was developed from the clock
system as 15-30-45-60 symbolized an hour. Later, the 45 was
shortened to 40, for reasons unknown.
A set in tennis, generally means a set of minimum six games.
To win a set, a player needs to win at least six games, with a
difference of minimum two games with his opponent, like 6-2
or 6-4. The rule is changed if the set scoreline becomes 5-5. In
this case, as a player can only win the set when leading by two or
more games, hence if the score reads 6-5, play continues until a
final score such as 7-5 or 8-6 (and so on) is achieved by any one
of the players. In some cases, a tie breaker is held if the scoreline
becomes 6-6, wherein a player will win, if he scores a minimum
of 7 points with a difference of 2.
The Australian Open, the French Open and the Wimbledon
allow tie breakers in all sets, except for the fifth deciding set; the US
Open uses the tie breaker in the last set as well.
There are other scoring rules, which naturally stems from these
basic ones. So the next time Federer serves for a match, you
would know exactly why.