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the basic rules of tennis

The 121st edition of Roland-Garros will take place from Sunday May 16 to Sunday June 5, 2022, at Porte d’Auteuil, in Paris. To follow the tournament without being dropped, here are the basic rules of tennis.

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Who will succeed Novak Djokovic and Barbora Krejčíková, Roland-Garros champions in 2021? Answer Sunday June 5, 2022. The 121st edition of the French internationals will indeed take place from Sunday May 16 to Sunday June 5, at Porte d’Auteuil, in the 16th arrondissement of Paris, starting with qualifying, before the start of the main draw matches from Sunday May 22. To follow the tournament without being dropped, we explain the basics of tennis and the rules to understand everything (and tell you about it in front of Rafael Nadal’s matches).

The Rules of Tennis: The History of Racket Sport

Tennis is a racket sport that originates from the game of tennis. Around the 13th century, people played ball with the palm of their hand. It was the less who invented this sport for exercise before tennis became a sport for the rich, played on a court with a net and a leather ball. Then the snowshoes appeared. The word “tennis” was invented by Englishman Walter Clopton Wingfield in 1874. He was playing the sport of rackets on his lawn and decided to patent his idea, first calling it Sphairistiké (which means “art of the ball” in Greek) before changing to “tennis” because in the Middle Ages, the player who served for his opponent said “hold”, which becomes “tennis” in English. Three years later, the Wimbledon tournament in England was created. And Roland-Garros began five years later, in 1882.

The ancestor of tennis is tennis / Credit: Unsplash

The rules of tennis: the court and the lines

The tennis court is a rectangle of 23.77 meters in length, the width of which depends on the match: 8.23 ​​meters for singles (including one against one) and 10.97 meters for doubles (team match, two against two). ). The field is separated in the middle by a net whose height (regulation) is 0.914 meters. On the court, the lines delimit the external borders of the field and the internal zones. On the sides, there are the corridors in which we only play doubles. The ball must bounce inside the court, before (or on) the baseline, from where the serve is made. At the level of the net, the lines delimit the service square where the ball must bounce so that there is no fault.

The lines delimit the places where the ball must bounce / Credit: Unsplash

The rules of tennis: clay, grass and hard

The Roland-Garros tournament takes place on clay. But it’s not the only surface on which tennis players can play a match. On clay, the ball is slower than on hard and grass, the rebounds are greater and the effects are accentuated. Players can slide to recover the ball, which he could not do on another surface. Most professional tournaments are played on a hard, synthetic surface considered to be intermediate in spin and ball speed, while on grass (like Wimbledon) the ball is faster and does not bounce very well. high.

Clay is recognizable by its red color, hard court is often blue and grass courts are green / Credit: Unsplash

The rules of tennis: the serve

The server is the one who puts the ball in play for the first point. In singles, players on either side of the net are alternately server and receiver. Same principle in doubles, simply the services alternate between the teams as well as between the players of each team. Before starting the match, the player or the team which will start with the service is determined after a drawing of lots. The tennis player or the team that wins the draw decides whether to be server or receiver for the first point or the side of the court of the first game (the players alternate sides after the first game then every two games until the end of the match), and the other tennis player or the other team will decide on the remaining choice.

When serving, the player must be behind the end line of the court / Credit: Unsplash

During a game, the server serves alternately from behind the right half then the left half of the court. For the service, the player must be behind the baseline between the sideline and the middle of the court. He must throw his ball in the air and hit it with his racket before it hits the ground. The player must not change places (running or walking) during the service movement, must not touch the line with his feet, must not cross the side or mid-court lines, otherwise the referee announces a foot fault. If he misses the ball, if he touches the net post, there is a service fault. The ball must pass diagonally over the net to bounce into the service box on the opposite side of the service, otherwise it is also a fault. If the ball hits the net and lands in bounds, there is a let and the ball is put back into play.

The rules of tennis: scoring

The server is entitled to two balls. If he does not succeed on either of his two attempts, he loses the point. If the serve is successful, the receiver must return the ball within the bounds of the court. And the server must do the same, and so on until one of the two opponents misses the ball after the bounce or sends it back out of bounds (note that a ball that bounces off a line is considered in the court) or in the net. He then loses the point. But how are points counted in tennis? It takes four points to win a game and six games to win a set and two or three sets to win a match. We explain in detail the counting of the score and the exceptions.

The game

A game is won in four points. Server points are counted first. Before the start of the game, there is no point, we say “zero”. The first point is worth “fifteen”, the second point “thirty”, the third point “forty”, and when a player scores a fourth point, there is a “game”. Unless the opponents both score three points… we say there is a tie.

equality and advantage

If the players both have three points, and we say “40A”. The next point allows one of the opponents to take what is called the advantagebut he must win the next point to win the game, otherwise, the players fall back to equality, and start again until one of the adversaries connects two points in a row.

In the event of a tie, the players must take the advantage / Credit: Unsplash

The set (or round)

A set also called a round is won in six games, with two games apart. That is to say that if there are five games to five, it is necessary to go up to seven games. And if there are six games to six, there will be a decisive game also called a tie break (see below). For women players, the game is played to the best of three sets (the winner is the one who won two sets). For men, the game can also be played in three sets or in five sets (it takes three winning sets to win) depending on the tournament. At Roland-Garros, the men play in five sets.

The tie break (or decisive game)

A tie break or decisive game makes it possible to decide between opponents tied at six games to six. And it is not counted like other games: the points are counted zero, one, two, three, up to seven. It is the first player to seven points with two points ahead of his opponent who wins . If there is not a two-point difference, the tie-break continues until a player takes the two-point lead. During a tie break, the player who starts to serve will serve once, before his opponent serves twice, and he resumes for two services, and so on. The side of the court changes every six points.

Roland-Garros, prestigious Grand Slam tournament

Roland Garros is one of the four tennis Grand Slam tournaments (also called Calendar Slam by the Anglo-Saxons) with the Australian Open (in January), the Wimbledon tournament (in June and July) and the US Open (in August). Winning the Grand Slam is winning all four rounds in the same year. A feat achieved by two players and only three players: Donald Budge in 1938, Rod Laver in 1962, Maureen Connolly in 1953, Margaret Court in 1970 and Steffi Graf in 1988. Rafael Nadal holds the record for men’s singles victory at Roland-Garros with thirteen victories (between 2005 and 2020, including five consecutive between 2010 and 2014). On the women’s side, it is the American Chris Evert who has accumulated the most victories in women’s singles (seven in total between 1974 and 1986).

The 2022 edition of Roland-Garros will take place from May 16 to June 5 / Credit: Unsplash

History: Who invented tennis?
Clay, grass, hard: what are the differences between the surfaces?
Tennis (and its rules) explained to neophytes
The basic rules of tennis
What are the rules of tennis?
Roland-Garros: why do women play in two winning sets (against three for men)?

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