How to Read a Tennis Scoreboard

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To the untrained eye, a tennis scoreboard can seem like a random mish-mash of numbers with no discernible meaning.

Yet, despite tennis being one of the most popular and televised sports in the world, the tennis scoring system remains a mystery to many… and to be fair, how many other sports go from 0 to 15 in one point?

To make matters worse, the various Grand Slams and events can display their score differently to one another on their televised coverage. Wimbledon, for example, will display the scores differently to the Australian Open.

So, today we’re going to be taking a deeper dive on how to read the score of a tennis match.  

How to Read the Tennis Score on TV?

The below scoreboards are taken from the most recent Grand Slam finals. These are:

  • 2021 Australian Open final – Novak Djokovic Vs Daniil Medvedev.
  • 2020 French Open final – Nadal vs Djokovic.
  • Wimbledon 2019 final – Novak Djokovic Vs Roger Federer.
  • US Open 2020 final – Zverev Vs Thiem.

3 out of the 4 major Grand Slam events display their score in the same way. The Australian Open, French Open, and the US Open display the score (from left to right), games won in set 1, through to the games won in the current set, and finally displaying the score of the current game on the far right.

As you can see from the image above, Wimbledon displays the score differently. Wimbledon is the outlier here, as most other tennis events use the same method of displaying the score as the other three Grand Slams.

Wimbledon will typically display (from left to right) the number of sets won, the number of games won in the current set, and the number of points won in the current game.

With all that said, let’s break down each of these scoreboards and discuss what has happened throughout these games.

Scoreboard 1: Australian Open

The below scorecard is taken from the 2021 Australian Open final.

tennis scoreboard

The scorecard shows the Djokovic won the first set 7-5, the second set 6-2, and is currently winning the third set 5-2. It’s currently match/ championship point, with Djokovic ahead 40-30.

Scoreboard 2: French Open

tennis scoreboard

The scoreboard shows Nadal again proving that he is the king of clay. Nadal won the first set 6-0, second set 6-2 and, the current set is tied at 5-5. Nadal went on to win the third set 7-5, claiming his 13th French Open title.

Scoreboard 3: Wimbledon

Wimbledon scoreboard

The nail-biting scoreboard above shows Djokovic Vs Federer at the 2019 Wimbledon final. A previously mentioned, the layout of this scoreboard is slightly different from the others.

Both Djokovic and Federer have each won a set and are tied 7-7 on the current set. Djokovic is currently ahead 15-0 in the current game.

Scoreboard 4: US Open

how to read a tennis scoreboard

The above scoreboard is taken from the 2020 US Open final between Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev. Currently, Zverev is winning the match, having one the first set 6-2, second set 6-2, with both players currently tied on set 3 with 4 games each. The current game is also tied at 30-30.

Interestingly, Thiem went on to win this game,  2–6, 4–6, 6–4, 6–3, 7–6 and with it, his first major title.

A Brief Overview of the Scoring System

If you’re new to tennis, all of the above information may seem a bit confusing. With that in mind, I’ll quickly break down the tennis scoring system, but for a more detailed overview, be sure to check out our full guide.

What is a Point?

A point is the lowest denominator of scoring in tennis. A point is earned when one player outplays the other, usually by placing the ball in such a way that the opponent is unable to return it. 

Each player will aim to win 4 points before their opponent (by two clear points) which in turn will win them the game (more on that in a second). If the score goes to 4-4, this is known as deuce, and one of the players will need to win 2 points consecutively to win the game.

Unlike other sports, however, the score in tennis does not progress 1,2,3 & 4. Instead, other numbers are used to describe the current score of a game. These are:

  • 1 = 15
  • 2 = 30
  • 3 = 40

What is a Game?

Once a player has won four points or has won the advantage point in a deuce situation, they will win the game.

The aim is to win 6 games, whilst being 2 games ahead of your opponent. Once a player has achieved this, they will win the set.

What is a Set?

Depending on the match, the goal is to either win best of 3 or best of 5 sets. Once a player has won 2 out of 3 sets, or 3 out of 5 sets, they will then win the match.

Final Thoughts

Although seeming a bit confusing at first, the tennis scoreboard is pretty easy to understand once you’ve got a basic understanding of the tennis scoring system.

Hopefully, we’ve done a good job at illustrating how to read a tennis scoreboard, but if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch via the comment section below.

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