Lawn Tennis can be played as a game between two players – this is called singles – or as a game between four players (two pairs) – doubles.
A match consists of a number sets. The four Grand Slams are played on a best of five sets basis. Other matches and all women’s matches, on a best of three sets.
A set is made up of games and the winner of a set is the first player to reach six games with a lead of two games. If the score reaches 5-5 then one player, or pair, must win two straight games hence 7-5 is a win.
A game is made up of points and four points in a row to either player wins the game.
The points are called 15, 30, 40 and game to that player. If the score reaches 40-40 (deuce) then one player, or pair in doubles, must win two clear consecutive points.
The first point won after deuce is called an advantage point – if the player with the advantage point loses the next point the score reverts back to deuce.
In tennis scoring, zero is called ‘love’, – hence fifteen love is 15-0, thirty love is 30-0, and forty love is 40-0. Because of the scoring system matches frequently last for several hours and at Grand Slams even gone into a second day.
The longest match on record was played at Wimbledon 22-24 June 2010 – 3 days! John Isner (USA) beat Nicolas Mahut (FRA) 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (7-9), 7-6 (7-3) 70-68 11 hours, 5 minutes.
In order to reduce the duration of a match the tiebreak was introduced in 1970 – 1973 but was not taken up by every Grand Slam tournament.
A 2022 rule change now requires every Grand Slam tournament, even the Olympics, to use the tiebreak in the final set. The tiebreak is played when the games reach 6-6. This is a 12-point system with points counted using ordinary numbering.
The set is won by the player who has scored at least seven points and is leading by at least two points – hence 7-5 tiebreak points is a win for that player and he wins the set by 7-6 – seven games to six.
The details of the tiebreak scoring system in tennis need not greatly concern a beginner to this great game. He is probably more concerned with how to get the ball over the net and keep it in the court.