Tennis draws and tiebreak terms you didn’t know about

Before the start of any tournament, tennis fans like you and me wait in anticipation of where their favourite player will stand in the draw. They are keen to see how their desired player will fare against the possible matchups. If at all a high seeded player is expected to play against your favoured player, you will immediately start having mental frames involving long rallies, winners and deciding set which goes down as a tiebreaker. Tiebreakers, the penalty shootouts of tennis. So if you can have these mental images, as a tennis fan, you need to know these terms related to draws and those nail biting tiebreakers.

1) All-comers

It was a system that was more prevalent in the time period before the Open Era. According to this system, all the players took part in the tournament would compete with each other in knockout stages to play the ‘challenge round.’ In the challenge round, the player who won the knockout matches would play against the previous year’s champion in order to win the title. The previous year’s champion would play only the challenge round in the entire tournament. This system was in effect in Wimbledon from 1877 to 1921 and in the US Open from 1884 till 1911. The last tournament to discontinue this format was the Davis Cup in 1972.

2) Bagnall-Wild

The current system of drawing in tennis was given by Bagnall-Wild. According to this system all the byes were eliminated in the first round as a bye is of more value in later rounds than in the first round. If the number of entries is a power of 2, then no byes are given. If not, then either byes are given or preliminary rounds are played. In 1885, Wimbledon incorporated the Bagnall-Wild draw system. In 1893, a lawn tennis guide book by Wright & Ditson explained the Bagnall-Wild draw’s process.

3) Exempts: Junior and Special

Junior Exempt: In 1997, the ITF started a Junior Exempt Project with the motive of helping the world’s top junior girls in competing in the pro circuit. The girls were selected based on how high they were placed in the top 10. Wild cards were then given to those girls who were selected so that they could compete in the senior draw. In the men’s circuit, the boys were given Junior Exempt commencing in 2007 so that they could appear in Futures Events. 

Special Exempt: If a player is scheduled to play a tournament’s qualification draw but is active in another tournament then he/she is given a special exempt in the tournament he is then scheduled to play. 

4) Lucky Loser

Losers can get lucky after all. Tennis has a way. A player lost in the final stage of a qualification draw and his/her’s hopes of being in the main draw of that tournament are all dashed. But next morning he rises up to find his name in the main draw. How? Well, the person who defeated him/her in the final stage of the qualification draw withdrew due to an injury or personal reasons. Basically, sudden withdrawal of any player can pave the way for losers in the qualification draw to enter the main draw. These are rare moments when your opponents are your best talisman!

5) Lingering Death Tiebreak

This is the most commonly used tiebreak system in tennis. According to this tiebreak, the first server serves one point from the deuce court. After that both the players alternatively serve two points until one of them reaches the score of 7, provided there is a difference of two points. If the score is 6-6, the players change ends and the match ends only when a player is ahead by two points from his opponent. 

6) Sudden Death tiebreak

This was the first system of tiebreak that was proposed and according to it the player who wins more points in a best of nine points, wins the match. The players serve twice alternatively. If the score is 4-4, then the next point is the deciding point for both the players. Unlike the lingering tiebreak, the rule of difference of two does not apply here.

7) Super tiebreak

In the league matches of USTA and in other domestic matches of shorter format, the 10-point or the super tiebreak system is used. This tiebreak is used in case a decider set is to be played. The rules are same as used in lingering tiebreak only that here the player should reach 10 points with a difference of two points. In case the score is 10-10, the match continues till a player takes a two point lead and wins the match. 

8) Coman Tiebreak 

This form of tiebreak focuses on changing the ends by taking in consideration that the position of sun and wind are equally beneficial to the players. This system, that is used in USTA’s league matches are identical as far as the scoring is concerned. The only deviation in the rule is that players change ends after the first point and then after every fourth point till the tiebreak ends. 2 sets are played in matches where Coman Tiebreak is followed. A 7-point tiebreak system is used if the set score reaches 6-6. In case of a decider, a 10-point tiebreaker is used.

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