What Are The Rules for Challenges In Tennis?

What Are The Rules For Challenges In Tennis

The procedure for challenges in tennis is fairly new, and has undergone many changes in a short period of time, but ironically, the process involves one of the most accurate replay systems in all of sports. Replay in the tennis world, also known as “Hawkeye,” is a 3-D representation of the tennis court, which is used in order to determine if a ball has hit the out of bounds line or not. Also known as “Electronic Review,” this technology uses cameras stationed all around the court to get the best and most accurate information to the officials, so that they can score matches as perfectly as possible. This has led to more accurate challenge decisions in tennis matches, though there has been debate over how it affects the game.

Just like in any other sport, there are rules and limitations to amounts and use of challenges by players in a match.

The rules for challenges in tennis include:

  1. Each player gets three challenges per set.
  2. These three challenges apply for both the tie-break and advantage methods of scoring sets.
  3. A challenge is not charged to a player who is successful in their challenge attempt.
  4. A challenge is charged if the player is unsuccessful.
  5. To request a challenge, a player must signal to the chair umpire promptly after the disputed call.
  6. The chair umpire has the right to dismiss the challenge if the player takes too long.
  7. A player cannot challenge or appeal another player’s successful challenge.
  8. Challenges can only be made if the player stops playing during a rally or on a point-ending shot.
  9. Players get one additional challenge per tie-break set.
  10. Challenges do not carry over into new sets if they are not used.

Below, we break down the five most important categories formed by the rules on this list.


Three Challenges Per Set

Under the rules of tennis for Electronic Review laid down by the International Tennis Federation (ITF), tennis players are granted three unsuccessful challenges (or “appeals”) per each set that is played. If they were to use up their three challenges and be deemed unsuccessful on each of them, they would have to wait for the next set to use another one, no matter how bad a subsequent call may seem to them.

A challenge can only be called either on a rally-ending shot or when one player stops playing during a rally. 

Successful Challenges

If a player’s challenge is successful, the player is not charged with a challenge. Technically, as long as a player keeps getting challenges correct, there is no limit to the amount of challenges they can make in a set. 

Unsuccessful Challenges

If a player challenges a call and it fails, they lose that challenge, and it gets subtracted from the total amount that they had in that set. For example, if a player has two challenges remaining in a set and then uses and loses a challenge, they would be down to one challenge.

For both successful and unsuccessful challenges, it is important to note that no challenge can be made as an effort to appeal the verdict of a prior challenge, as the decisions made by the chair umpire in consultation with the Electronic Review System are considered final. 

Tie-Break and Advantage Challenges

During a tie-break situation, a player will receive an additional challenge that is added onto their total for the set. This means that a player could potentially have four challenges during a tie-break, if they have successfully maintained their three challenges in the prior set. This ensures that each player has at least one challenge going into the tie-break. For matches that enter a match tie-break set, both players receive another three unsuccessful challenges for that set.

Players will also receive extra challenges for a match played with the advantage set scoring system, which is a system in which each set is played until one player wins six games, or wins by two games if both players win more than six. In the advantage set format, both players receive three unsuccessful challenges for that set, which follow the same rules as normal challenges.

No Carry Over

The final important rule of challenges in tennis is that challenges do not carry over from set to set. This means that each set begins with both players having three challenges, no matter how many challenges either player had left over from the previous set. These rules became uniform throughout the professional tennis world in 2008.

FAQ

How many challenges do you get in tennis?

In tennis, each player begins every set in a match with three challenges. These challenges reset at the beginning of each set in the match, and apply to matches that use both the tie-break scoring method and the advantage set scoring method. A player is not charged for a challenge if they are successful. An extra challenge is given to each player during a tie-break and three extra challenges are match tie-break sets.

How do you challenge a call in tennis?

There are very strict procedures in tennis for challenging a call that one believes was incorrect. Any call for a challenge must be made promptly, and the chair umpire can dismiss a call for an appeal if the appeal was made too late after the disputed call. Players must signal the chair umpire clearly and respectfully when challenging, such that play does not continue before the challenge is considered. If the chair umpire determines that a player has incorrectly appealed a call or appealed too late, they will award the point to the opposing player.

When can challenges be called in tennis?

In tennis, challenges can only be made at specific points during a match. The two instances in which a challenge can be called are on a point-ending shot or when one player stops playing during a rally. Players cannot, for instance, make a challenge during a serve (they must wait until after the serve is finished to dispute a call), or at any other time that is not either a point-ending shot or an instance of stopped play. Challenges in tennis cannot be made as appeals of the results of another challenge, as each decision made by the Electronic Review System is considered final.