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How Many Games Does A Set Consist Of In Tennis?

This image demonstrates an example of a tennis match between two players. Each player has won two sets.
Normal Circumstances Under normal circumstances a set is played until one player wins six games.
TiesA win by two rules exists in tennis so if a match is 5-5 or 6-5 a player must win 7-5. If the games are 6-6 a tiebreaker is played.

In tennis, one set is played until a player has won six games. That can mean that a set is only six games, if that player wins every game, ending the set 6-0. Much more common, however, is for a set to be anywhere from eight to ten games long, with scores of 6-2, 6-3, 6-4. This is because "breaking" someone, winning when not serving, is difficult and usually only happens once or twice per set. The amount of sets played is different for men and women, men play until someone has won three sets while women play until two. A score in which one player has dominated a match, for instance, would be 6-2,6-2,6-3. In this case, the winning player won six games in all three sets and the losing player only won seven games throughout the three set match.

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Win by two

One wrinkle in the amount of games played in a set, however, are tiebreakers and the "win by two" rule. A player cannot win simply by reaching six games first because if that is the case it will give a strong advantage to the player who serves first. If no "breaks" occur, a score of 6-5 will occur, with the player serving first winning the match. That is why, in order to win a set one has to win by two games. If the score is 5-5 or 6-5, another game or two will be played until a score of 7-5 is achieved. However, if the score ends up 6-6, different rules apply in different major tennis tournaments but the most common rule is a "tiebreak." This added set is played, not on a "love, fifteen, deuce" scale but on a numerical scale to seven, also win by two points. The player set to serve first serves then the other player serves twice and back to the first player to serve twice as well. The scores go up until one player has gotten at least seven points and has won by two more than their opponent. Common tiebreaker scores are 7-5, 8-6, 7-4 etc.


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