How does scoring in tennis work

How does scoring in tennis work

Amon Fearon - July 18, 2022

Want to know how tennis scoring works? Whenever you’re getting to know a new sport, one of the most challenging things is wrapping your head around how it all works. Whether it’s the physical demands of playing or rules and regulations to follow a match, knowing your stuff makes all the difference.

When it comes to tennis, there’s some basic terminology you need to familiarise yourself with. Let's cover how scoring works in tennis so you're ready to perform and watch one of the most popular sports in the world.


How do scores work in tennis?

Tennis works in three phases; game, set and match.


Played until one player scores four points.


Collection of games that are played until one player wins six games (or more depending on the scores).


Collection of sets that make up the overall winner. To win at tennis, a player needs to win two sets if playing to a best of three or three sets in a best of five match.


To put that into context, when playing a best of three match, you need to have won two sets. To win a set, you need to win six games. To win a game, you need to be the first player to reach four points. Now let's break each component down further with live game examples.


Point system scoring in a tennis game

Both tennis players start each game with 0 points. This is known as 'love all'. Points scored from a winning shot increase in intervals of 15 and then 10. So, one point = 15, two points = 30, three points = 40 and four points count as game won. Scores then reset to love all for game number two. If both sides reach 40 (three points), the game enters a 'deuce'. At this stage, at least two consecutive points are required to win. A one point lead goes to 'advantage' for that player, and then another point wins the game. But if the next play is lost while on advantage, the game returns to deuce, and can swing the other way.

Win six of these games and the player has now won a set. In the example below, Andy Murray won six games in three sets to beat James Duckworth in Wimbledon.

Andy Murray vs James Duckworth Wimbledon scores 2022

Here’s a quick breakdown of how the scoring works and common terminology you’ll hear:

0 points


1 point


2 points


3 points


4 points

Game (one player has won)





Server wins deuce point


Receive wins deuce point



So, you have an idea of how the point system works, but how do you earn these points?


Winning a point

Of course, there are several rules to how you win points. But to keep it top-level, for now, if a serve is successful and the other player returns, the ball is hit back and forth until someone fails to return the ball over the net within one bounce, or hits out of bounds. Whichever player hits the final shot to the opposite side of the court and isn’t at fault gets the point.


How many sets are in a tennis match?

In tennis, there are either three or five sets in a game. But you can win a five set once three sets are achieved.

If you’re training for a tournament, check the rules first as they can differ. By winning a set, a player is awarded a match point. That means to win the match, players need to win either two or three sets. Women at Wimbledon and other Grand Slam tournaments play to win two sets out of three whereas men compete in the best-of-five format. Matches can take over two hours so recreational players may want to opt for one or three sets.


Tennis scoring examples

Now we’ve covered the basics, let’s look at a live example of scoring.

Andy and Chris are playing a game:

It's Andy's turn to serve for this game. The score starts at love all.

Score: 0-0

Andy serves the ball and Chris misses the return. Andy is now 15 up and Chris remains on Love.

Score: 15-0

Andy serves and his next shot lands outside of court lines. Chris scores 15.

Score: 15-15

Andy serves but the ball fails to bounce in the diagonal service box, which counts as a 'fault'. He gets a second serve but doesn't make that shot either. By default, Chris scores another 15.

Score: 15-30

Andy serves and after several long range shots he taps a light return and the ball lands just over the net. It bounces twice before Chris is able to get to it. Andy scores another 15.

Score: 30-30

Andy serves and after a long back and forth his final shot hits the top of the net but manages to go over to the other side. The ball slows down and Chris doesn't make the return. Andy scores 10.

Score: 40-30

Andy serves and scores a winning shot to end the game. He is now 1-0 and the next game begins. It's now Chris's turn to serve.


As we’ve established, a player must win six games to win a set. However, in the case of a deuce, or 40-40, a player will only win by scoring two consecutive points. So, this could go on for a while.

Similarly, to win a set, there needs to be a two-point advantage. For example, if the score is 6-5, the leading player must win the seventh game to secure that set. However, if the scores are 6-4, the leading player claims the set without the need for a seventh game.

Using the information so far you'll know how to read tennis scores on a typical TV scoreboard.

Wimbledon scoreboard

In the above scoring example, Andy Murray is close to 'match point' as he nears three set wins. This will be the final point needed to end the match.


Tennis tiebreaker scoring

As with any sport, sometimes it’s not as simple as winning or losing. Sometimes, players end up tying on points. In tennis, this would look like a 6-6 score at the end of a set. If this happens, a tiebreak set is played to determine a winner.

A tiebreak is the first to a seven-point win. So, rather than working to win four points, the objective is to win seven. In a regular game, points have other values, e.g., one point = 15, two points = 30 etc. In a tiebreak, it’s simply in numerical order, so, one, two, three, four and so on. If you’re watching a game and a tiebreak match is played differently from this format, it’s because some tournaments do have different rules. 


How does Wimbledon scoring work?

Wimbledon is one of the biggest sporting events of the year. It’s world-renown for hosting some of the best tennis players from all over the globe and is what many professional tennis players train their whole career for.

For the most part, Wimbledon follows the standard rules of tennis. That is until there is a need for a tiebreaker set. If both players are on a 6-6 score, a 10-point tiebreaker is played. The first player to 10 points with that all-important two-point margin, wins.

There is also a difference between men’s and women’s matches with women playing three matches whereas men play five.


How long is a tennis game?

If playing a best of three match, tennis usually lasts around 90 minutes. In a five-set match, tennis could take up to 2 hours and 45 minutes. Now, those are just ballpark figures. In reality, those timings could be shorter or longer depending on the play.

The longest tennis match in history lasted for 11 hours and five minutes played by John Isner and Nicolas Mahut at Wimbledon 2010. Of course, that’s a special circumstance but showcases just how long tennis can be when played at a professional standard.

If you’re looking at getting into tennis or improving your game, make sure you’re well equipped to perform at your best. Invest in some tennis gear that’s been specifically designed for the sport to help you make meaningful improvements over time.