How To Play A Tiebreaker In Tennis
Tennis is a sport known for its long and grueling matches, often going well over three hours. While tie-break games are somewhat of a relief to players and fans alike, they can still be challenging to play.  Find out how to play a tiebreaker in tennis in this guide.

4 Steps in Playing A Tie-Break In Tennis 

4 Steps in PLaying A Tie-Break In Tennis 

1. The Player Serving The 13th Game Serves First

The next person due to give the first serve in a tiebreak game will start the tiebreak playoff. To get the first point, he must serve from the deuce court, not on the left side (ad side). The opponent will serve the following two points starting on the ad side.  In doubles matches, the player on the opposing team due to serve will serve these points to break the player’s tie[1]. Whoever started serving the tiebreak would receive a service in the first game of the next set. 

2. The Other Player Must Serve The Next 2 Points

The Other Player Must Serve The Next 2 PointsAfter the first point from the first game, the player who did not serve the 13th game should serve the next two points to the opposing player/team (for a doubles match). He should serve two service points on the left-hand side of the court. During this phase of the tie break, tennis players must focus on returning serves from each side of the court quickly and accurately. 

3. Two Players Alternate To Serve 2 Points Each

The players then alternate serving two points each, which should always occur on the ad court (left side of the court). The second point should come from the deuce side [1]. The tie-break game continues as long as one of the players gains a two-point lead over his opponent. But what is deuce in tennis?

4. The First Player To Reach 7 Points Wins 

The First Player To Reach 7 Points Wins The final step in a tiebreaker game in tennis is for the player with the higher score to serve the final point of the tiebreak. For example, if the set score (last game) ends with a 7-6 score, then the leading player wins.  The player must win by a two-point advantage. This applies to a singles match or a grand slam to win the tie break. 

What’s A Tiebreak In Tennis? 

A tiebreak is a special competition used to resolve a tied match in tennis. It consists of seven points and starts from the side of the court (deuce side) that was serving in the playoff before the tiebreak.  The game score must be at least 2 pts apiece for a tiebreak to occur and typically begins when (e.g.) Player B successfully serves seven consecutive times without losing the serve against Player A. A tiebreak aims to prevent long games and matches by quickly breaking any ties in score between players. Whoever gets more points wins.

How It Happens 

How It Happens A tiebreak happens when two players are tied after several sets. When players tie the score and there’s no advantage set, their next game will be a tiebreak to decide the winner. This playoff will be the deciding set for tennis games with a tied score like grand slams, singles matches, or marathon matches. The players change ends before starting a tie break if they reach an odd number of games to end the second set, like 6-3 or 6-1. Both players remain on the same side until they reach 6 pts.

Types of Tiebreaks 

Types of Tiebreaks 

15-Point Tie Breaker

This type of tiebreak uses the same scoring system as a 12-point tiebreaker in a match. It extends the playoff slightly by allowing players to continue serving until the first team reaches 4-4 scores 7 or 2 pts ahead against the other team.

12-Point Tie Breaker

12-Point Tie BreakerThis is typically used when the players are tied at 6 pts apiece in a set. This type of tiebreak rule requires that the players serve one point. Each player serves alternately until one of the players reaches 7 pts, or the playoff ends with a score of 6-6. 

10-Point Tie Breaker

This is typically used when the players are tied at 6 pts apiece in a set. The rules of this type of tiebreak require that each player serves one point, alternating until either one player reaches 7 pts or the playoff ends with a score of 6-6.

7-Point Tie Breaker 

7-Point Tie Breaker This is the most commonly used type of tiebreak in a tennis match. It typically occurs when the players’ score is tied at six games apiece in a set. This type of tiebreak uses the same scoring system as a 12-point tiebreaker but only extends to 7 pts instead of 12. 

5-Point Tie Breaker

This is a shorter version of the 7-point tiebreaker. This type of tiebreak is typically used in matches that are shorter in duration, such as those that only last one set.

3-Point Tie Breaker

A 3-point tiebreaker is the shortest and most common type of tiebreak in tennis. This type of tiebreak is typically used in matches that are only one set in duration.

Major Tournament Rules 

Major Tournament Rules 


At Wimbledon, tie-break games are played if the score reaches 12-12 in the final set. This type of tiebreak is also used in all other sets if the score reaches 6-6. One player or team must win by two games to continue the set.

US Open

Tiebreak games are played in the US Open if the score reaches 6-6 in any set except for the final set. 

Australian Open

The Australian Open uses tiebreak games if the score reaches six to six points in any set except the final set. In this type of tiebreak, players must compete against each other to win points and gain control of the game. Players also switch sides whenever they reach 6 pts.


How many points is a tiebreak in tennis?

The most common tiebreakers are either 7 pts or 10 pts. Other less common tiebreakers can be five, two, or three points. Learn how to play tennis for beginners here

How long is a tennis tiebreak?

A tennis tiebreak can last a few minutes to over an hour. It all depends on the number of sets played and how close the score is.

Wrapping Up 

Tiebreakers are an important part of tennis, and they take a variety of forms depending on the situation and level of competition. Whether you’re facing off in a major tournament or just playing a casual playoff with friends, it is crucial to stay focused and give your best effort at every point to succeed.  Whether you play aggressively and consistently or work hard to come back from behind, be sure to master the art of the tiebreak to avoid unforced errors!  Reference:

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