DFS Tennis 101: Intro to DraftKings
DFS Tennis 101: Intro to DraftKings

This article is part of our DFS Tennis 101 series.

If you are like me, you had been waiting for years for DFS sites to offer tennis. This wish was finally granted earlier this month, as DraftKings rolled out daily contests for Wimbledon. Now that the second installment of contests is nearly upon us, it's a good time to take a look at the nuts and bolts of DFS tennis.

As is usually the case when exploring a new sport, the first thing we must do is look at the scoring system to understand what we as players should be targeting when we build lineups.

SCORING

POINTS FOR
BEST OF 3 SETS
POINTS FOR
BEST OF 5 SETS
Match Played3030
Game Won2.52
Game Lost-2-1.6
Set Won65
Set Lost-3-2.5
Match Won65
Ace0.40.25
Double Fault-1-1 Pt
Break0.750.5

BONUS SCORING

POINTS FOR
BEST OF 3 SETS
POINTS FOR
BEST OF 5 SETS
*Clean Set 4 2.5
**Straight Sets6 5
No Double Fault2.5 5
10+ Ace 2
15+ Ace 2

*Awarded for winning a set without losing a game
**Awarded for winning a match without losing a set


WIN-BY-RETIREMENT BONUS SCORING

Reflects the combined value of the Match Won and Win by Retirement stats.

POINTS FOR
BEST OF 3 SETS
POINTS FOR
BEST OF 5 SETS
Set 120 20
Set 215 16
Set 310 12
Set 4--8
Set 5--8

There are a lot for players to digest in the tables above, but the most important thing to note is the difference between five-set and three-set scoring. All ATP/WTA tournaments are played to the best-of-three sets, except for men's Grand Slam tournaments. Grand Slam tournaments include the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

For those new to the sport, it's important to understand that women's tennis matches are always decided over three sets, regardless of the type of tournament. This makes it a bit more tempting to choose men during Grand Slams, as they have more point-scoring opportunities in general. DraftKings has made certain scoring events worth more points in three-set affairs, however, so players should look carefully at the rubric before deciding which competitors will bring home the highest score.

Next, let's discuss strategy. Most DraftKings users are at least somewhat familiar with basic tactics in sports like baseball, football and basketball but might be a bit less prepared for tennis, as it doesn't generally receive much mainstream coverage. With that in mind, here are a few things to be aware of before you enter a DFS tennis contest.

KNOW THE SURFACES

Professional tennis is contested on four surfaces: hard courts, clay courts, grass courts and carpet courts. It is important to understand how the ball responds on the various kinds of courts and which players will fare better as a consequence. A hard court, for example, favors big servers, while the soft clay slows the ball, making it easier for more athletic players who can use speed and precise shot making to win points.

To illustrate how surfaces can affect a competitor, we need to look no further than Thomaz Bellucci, who has won just 43 percent of the 78 matches he has played on hard courts in his career but is 138-103 (57 percent) on clay. This disparity highlights the importance of finding specialists on a particular surface, as they will take DFS players who simply look at overall performance by surprise.

PAY ATTENTION TO HEAD-TO-HEAD RECORDS


To put it simply, tennis matches can take a long time. This means that players who have encountered each other more than once should have a good feel for how the other plays, due to contesting so many points with them in past matches. It is for this reason that a dominant head-to-head score (think 3-0, 4-1, etc.), is generally a good indicator that the winning player will have future matches under control. There are certain caveats to mention, such as putting less emphasis on matches that took place years ago or matches that were contested on different surfaces, but a one-sided head-to-head record can at least help prospective owners get started when they are deciding on lineup construction.


THE IMPORTANCE OF HOLDING SERVE 


There are dozens of stats to dive into, but I want to highlight one that I believe will be helpful when sifting through bloated tournament fields. One thing new arrivals to the sport will find out quickly is that it is harder to lose if you convert service games. Not only does this put numbers in the win column, it also works to put the opponent on notice, forcing him or her to be that much better in their own service games to keep from being broken. Players who hold serve well also tend to be successful in tiebreaks, a format where there is even less margin for error on serve.

To illustrate how effective holding serve at an elite level can be, we can look at 2018 Wimbledon semifinalist John Isner, who went 5-1 in The Championships on the strength of a 97.2 percent service hold percentage despite winning just 30 percent of points while defending an opponents' serve. 


GAME TYPES 



Perhaps when it gets legs, DFS Tennis on DraftKings will expand to offer some of the newer game formats that have been introduced for sports like basketball and baseball, but for now, we must choose from the classic contests. These include GPP tournaments, head-to-head matches, 50/50s and double-ups, triple-ups and satellites and qualifiers. To learn more about tournament formats, check out this RotoWire article. While the focus is baseball, the formats are the same as tennis.

Whatever you end up playing, keep the above strategy tips in mind, stay within your bankroll and, most of all, enjoy the tennis.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Christopher Olson plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: Sommerset, FanDuel: Christop, Yahoo: Martins.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Christopher Olson
Christopher Olson writes DFS articles and blogs for a variety of sports including MLB, NFL and MMA. Follow him on Twitter @RealChrisOlson
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