Understanding Tennis Tie Break Scoring

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Oleg Aronov, the Chief Executive Officer of the specialty retail pharmacy StatRx Pharmacy, Inc., is an avid sports enthusiast. A successful tennis player with black belts in both judo and aikido, Oleg Aronov also enjoys cycling and mountain biking.

The tennis scoring system can appear complex to beginners. Perhaps the most confusing aspects of tennis scoring occur during a tie break. Standard sets of tennis end when one player wins six games, with at least a two-game advantage over his or her opponent. However, if both players reach six games, the set enters a deciding tie break. A traditional tie break is played to seven points, with the winning player needing to secure a two-point margin of victory.

The player set to serve in the 13th game of the set begins the tie break with a single serve from the deuce court. Following the opening point, players alternate serving every two points, first from the ad court and then from the deuce court. After six total points, players switch ends. Players switch ends again after 12 points, 18 points, and so on until the conclusion of the tie break.

As players must win by two points, the length of tie break can be unpredictable. A 7-0 or 7-1 tie break score is not uncommon. On the other hand, pro players Benjamin Balleret and Guillaume Couillard once engaged in a 70-point tie break; Balleret took the set with a tie break score of 36-34.