Home How to Bet on Clay

How to Bet on Clay

by TN Betting
how to bet on clay tennis betting

The clay season is one of the most exciting in the tennis calendar with plenty of tournaments in three different continents. On this article we’re going to deep dive into this surface, analyze the different tournaments and, of course, give you useful tips on how to bet on clay.

Clay is the most demanding physically surface in tennis, with players needing to work extra hard to win points. For that reason, before starting your tennis betting on clay is important to understand the surface and how it may differ from tournament to tournament.

Understanding Clay Courts

Before we enter into details of each tournament and tips on how to bet on clay, it’s important to understand how this surface works. The first thing is how clay courts are made and for that we will use Roland Garros as an example, the only Grand Slam played on this surface.

The clay courts at the French Open have the following composition:

Clay court layers

Most clay courts are made of red clay, like the one in Roland Garros. The construction of these kind of courts makes them slow and bouncy, which suits strong baseliners with heavy topspin on their groundstrokes.

When betting on clay, one of the important things to keep in mind is if the player is, or not, a specialist on this surface. Even though pretty much all players can compete on clay, some are true experts and master the surface like no other.

The best example is obviously Rafael Nadal, considered the best clay-court player of all time. However, there are other good examples of active players who perform at their best on clay, such as Dominic Thiem or Casper Ruud.

Even though clay is usually a very slow surface, there are other factors that can have an impact on the game conditions. One of those is altitude, which makes the game much faster than at sea level. We have a dedicated tennis article on how to bet on altitude for those who want to learn more about it.

Now that you have a better understanding of how clay courts work, it’s time to deep dive into the main tournaments on clay and how the game conditions compare between them.

Betting on Top Tournaments on Clay

In case you are not familiar with the tennis calendar, there are different tournament categories:

Grand Slam events are the pinnacle of tennis and every player dreams of winning one. Nevertheless, Masters 1000 and ATP 500 are also extremely important events with attractive points and prize money.

Below we will look at the court speed of the top tennis tournaments on the ATP Tour by looking at the average service hold in the past couple of years per event. It’s important to mention that the average service hold on clay in the past years on clay is 75.7%.

HTML Table Generator
Service Hold
Deviation from Mean
 Madrid Masters 1000  80.2%  4.5% 
 Rome Masters 1000   77.7% 2% 
 French Open  Grand Slam 76.4%  0.7% 
 Barcelona ATP 500   74.7%  -1%
Rio   ATP 500  74.6%  -1.1%
 Hamburg ATP 500   73.5%  -2.2%
Monte Carlo  Masters 1000  72.1%   -3.6%

As you can see, there is a significant difference between these tournaments. The highlight clearly goes to Madrid, with an average service hold of 80.2%. One of the main reasons for this number is Madrid’s altitude, which makes the conditions significantly faster. On the other hand, Monte Carlo has the lowest service hold percentage, a tournament that is played at sea level in a very slow surface.

To better understand how to bet on tennis in the top clay tournaments, we are going to analyse each of them individually. Each event has its own particular features and there are always players who usually perform at their best on a specific tournament.

ATP 500 Rio de Janeiro

The first big clay-court tournament of the season takes place at Rio de Janeiro in February. The Rio Open was founded in 2014 and is held at the Jockey Club Brasileiro.

This is the first big opportunity for clay-court specialists to earn big points and has some important names as previous champions. Rafael Nadal won the first edition of the tournament followed by famous players such as David Ferrer, Dominic Thiem or Carlos Alcaraz.

For those who are looking to bet on the Rio Open, it’s important to know that the conditions at this event are quite slower. The tournament is played at sea level and is not easy for big servers to play at this event.

ATP 500 Rio de Janeiro betting

The Rio Open is the main clay tournament of the Golden Swing, a series of four tennis tournaments held every February in Latin America. This means that most players already competed in previous weeks in ATP 250 events. That said, one of our betting tips for the Rio Open is to look for the in-form players in the previous clay-court tournaments.

Another important point to mention is that there are two other ATP events on hard court in the same week, which means that you will rarely see players who are not clay-court specialists in Rio de Janeiro.

In other tournaments, especially Masters 1000 and Grand Slams, you have players who are not clay specialists competing on the surface and betting against them is usually a good strategy. However, this is not usually the case in Rio de Janeiro.

Masters 1000 Monte Carlo

The Monte Carlo Masters is the first Masters 1000 event of the season on clay and takes place in April at the Monte Carlo Country Club. The tournament was founded in 1897 and is one of the most prestigious events in the tennis calendar.

In the last two decades the tournament has been dominated by Rafael Nadal, who won 11 of the last 17 editions, including eight consecutive titles between 2005 and 2012. However, Stefanos Tsitsipas won the last two editions and is aiming for a third consecutive title in 2023.

As you can see in the table above, the Monte Carlo Masters has the lowest service hold average of all the top clay-court tournaments. These are some of the slowest courts on the ATP Tour and one of the reasons is for being at sea level. Nevertheless, the courts still have a pretty high bounce despite the low speed.

Masters 1000 Monte Carlo betting on clay

Since this is the first Masters event on clay, it’s common for non-clay specialists to compete at this event. This means that there are good opportunities to bet in Monte Carlo against players who are making their first appearance of the year on clay.

Big servers also have a hard time on this event due to the slow courts. John Isner, for example, one of the best severs in history only played this tournament twice with a poor 2-2 record. Another big server who always struggled on this event is Ivo Karlovic, winning only 2 of the 8 matches he played throughout his career at the Monte Carlo Country Club.

That said, fading players who rely too much on their serve or who are not very comfortable on the surface and are making the first appearance of the season on clay is a very good betting strategy for the Monte Carlo Masters.

ATP 500 Barcelona

The Barcelona Open takes place the week after the Monte Carlo Masters at the Real Club de Tenis de Barcelona. The tournament was founded in 1953 and is one of the most attractive ATP 500 in the tennis calendar with an incredible prize money of over $2.5 million.

Is no surprise that Nadal is the biggest champion in the tournament history with 12 titles between 2005 and 2021. In fact, 16 of the last 19 champions at the Barcelona Open were Spanish, which shows how strong the local players have been at this event.

ATP 500 Barcelona

The courts in Barcelona rate close to the average clay court speed on the ATP Tour with a 74.7% service hold. This means that if you are looking to bet on clay at the Barcelona Open, you should be looking for experienced clay-court players.

This event takes place in the same week as other two clay-court events, which means that players have no option but to play on clay this week. That said, is likely that you will have players who are not very comfortable on the surface competing this week, giving you good tennis betting opportunities.

The last point we want to mention is regarding home players, which have been incredibly successful over the years. As mentioned above, 16 of the last 19 editions ended with a Spanish champion and local players seem always to be a very good bet on Barcelona’s clay.

Masters 1000 Madrid

The Mutua Madrid Open, also known as Masters 1000 Madrid, is the biggest tennis tournament in Spain. The event takes place in May at the Manzanares Park Tennis Center and is one of the few events with retractable roofs in the main courts.

There are many things that make the Mutua Madrid Open a special tournament. One of them is the fact that Madrid is at an altitude of 2,188 feet above sea level (around 667 meters).

This is a very important aspect to keep in mind when betting at the Madrid Masters on clay, since altitude makes the conditions significantly faster. This happens because the air is less dense at higher altitudes and the ball will travel at a faster speed.

Besides the increased speed, altitude also makes ball bounce higher and faster, making it much more difficult to break the opponent’s serve. This is also aligned with the information provided before on the average service hold per tournament, with Madrid having the highest result among all the top tournaments on clay.

Rafa-Nadal-Masters 1000 Madrid betting clay

From all the Masters 1000 tournaments on clay, Madrid is the one where Nadal found less success throughout his career. This is easy to understand when comparing the game conditions in Madrid with Monte Carlo and Rome.

If you are looking to place bets on Madrid’s clay, it’s always a good idea to back powerful hitters with strong serves. Most of the times these players are underrated by the bookies since clay is not often their favorite surface. However, Madrid is a completely different tournament and they often produce their best tennis on this event.

We saw before Isner’s poor record in Monte Carlo, a tournament that he only played twice in his career. Looking at his numbers in Madrid, the 6’10” American has an impressive 15-9 record and three appearances in the quarterfinals. Not bad for a player who is far from a clay-court specialist.

The other betting tip we have for Madrid is to avoid betting on players who made deep runs in the previous week. Playing on altitude always requires some adjustments and that won’t be possible if a player is playing a final on the previous Sunday. Even though these players might be in good form, it’s quite possible that they will struggle with the conditions and suffer an early defeat on this event.

Masters 1000 Rome

The BNL Internazionali d’Italia, also known as Rome Masters, is the last big clay-court tournament before Roland Garros. The event takes place in the beginning of May at the Foro Italico in Rome.

As it happens in the other main clay-court events, Nadal is the most successful player with 10 titles on his resume. Apart from the Spaniard, Novak Djokovic has also enjoyed great success in Rome with six titles. Both have dominated the tournament in the last two decades, winning 16 of the last 18 editions.

Masters 1000 roma

For those who are thinking about betting at the Rome Masters, is important to know that the clay courts play quite fast. The average service hold on this event is 77.7%, which is 2% above the average on the surface.

Players with big serve often make surprising runs at the Foro Italico and prove to be great investments. Both Reilly Opelka and John Isner, two of the best servers ever, are former semifinalists in Rome, a very surprising result for two players who are far from experts on the surface. That said, betting on powerful servers on this tennis clay tournament in Rome is a very interesting strategy.

Another good approach is to back home players since the Italian crowds are always extremely loud and supportive of their players. Even though no Italian has won the tournament since Adriano Panatta in 1976, the home players usually make good performances with the support of the crowd. For that reason, we also recommend looking into good betting opportunities on Italian players, especially when they are playing as underdogs in the main courts.

Roland Garros

The French Open, also known as Roland Garros, is the biggest clay-court tournament in the tennis calendar. The event takes place between May and June at the Stade Roland Garros in Paris.

It is no surprise that Nadal is, once again, the most successful player in Roland Garros’ history. The Spaniard has rewritten history in the French capital, winning 14 titles and becoming the first player ever to win 14 Grand Slam titles at the same event.

Looking at the court speed average at the French Open, the surface is very close to the tour average on clay. For those thinking about betting in Roland Garros is important to know that the average service hold is 76.4% in the last couple of years.

However, there are some important things to keep in mind. One of them is the difference between the two main courts. The center court is Court Philippe-Chatrier and is known for its size. There is no other court in the world with more space around the court, making it a perfect place for great movers such as Nadal.


On the other hand, the second main court is Court Suzanne Lenglen and has some main differences when compared to Philippe-Chatrier. Besides not having so much space around the court, the conditions are significantly faster due to the architecture of the stadium.

These are very important aspects to keep in mind when placing your tennis bets at the French Open, since the game conditions are quite different from one court to the other. We recommend that you always check the order of play for the upcoming days, in order to find out in which courts are the matches taking place.

The other aspects we want to mention regarding tennis bets in Roland Garros is the weather forecast and schedule of play. Clay is a unique surface and one of its own features is that is possible to play on it with light rain and very humid conditions.

Knowing how weather affects tennis betting is very important for this surface since the ball reacts completely different. Sunny and hot conditions are perfect for topspin, as the ball bounces much higher and moves faster. On the other hand, humid and heavy conditions suit flat hitters since the ball doesn’t bounce as much.

Regarding schedule of play, this is also an important aspect to keep in mind. Since 2021 the tournament started having night sessions to attract more fans, but this is not ideal for the players. The main reason is that the court conditions at night are also different than during the day, mainly because the surface is heavier and is not so reactive to topspin.

That said, we also suggest that you check the weather forecast and schedule of play before placing bets in Roland Garros. The conditions can be quite different and that can make the difference in a close match.

ATP 500 Hamburg

The Hamburg European Open is the last big clay-court tournament on the tennis calendar. The event takes place in July at the Am Rothenbaum in Hamburg.

This tournament takes place in a mini clay-court season between Wimbledon and the US Open, giving clay-court players a final opportunity to grab important points. The winner takes home 500 points and the tournament has a prize money of more than $1 million for the players.

ATP 500 Hamburg

Looking at the court index speed, the tournament has an average service hold of 73.5%, which is 2.2% below the surface average. However, the center court is significantly faster than the others due to its architecture and convertible roof.

If you are looking to do your tennis bets at the ATP Hamburg, then we recommend that you always schedule the order of play. The center court provides much faster conditions to the players, making it easier for big servers and powerful hitters to play there.

On the other hand, if the match takes place in the secondary courts, then betting on clay-court specialists with a solid baseline game is usually the best strategy. The conditions are much slower and one of the reasons for the average service hold below the surface average.

Betting Tips and Strategies for Clay

Now that we’ve seen all the main tournaments on this surface, its time to look at some useful betting tips and strategies for clay. This doesn’t mean that you don’t need to do your own research, but we’re sure that this tips can help you when analyzing potential bets.

Don’t forget also to always look for the best odds in the market before betting. We have a section dedicated to the best sportsbooks for tennis betting with plenty of options available for you.

Understand the Game Conditions

No clay courts are the same and there are always some factors to consider before making your tennis bets on clay. One key aspect to keep in mind is whether the tournament is played on altitude since the conditions are much faster than at sea level.

If you are betting on a tennis tournament on altitude, you should be looking for big servers and powerful hitters, which are usually underrated on clay. Besides Madrid, there are also some lower-level tournaments on these conditions such as Santiago and Geneva.

Another thing to analyze before placing your bets in a tournament is if there is any difference among the different courts. As mentioned before, the two main courts in Roland Garros provide very different conditions to the players. Also, Hamburg’s center court with the retractable roof plays much faster than the outside courts.

Look for the Weather Forecast

Clay is a very reactive surface and the conditions can be very different according to the weather forecast. Playing on clay on a hot and sunny day is very different than playing on cloudy and humid conditions.

weather clay court

Before placing your bets on clay, you should always look for the weather forecast to help you understand the playing conditions. You might be thinking that a certain player is a good investment but the forecast predicts rain and heavy conditions are not ideal for his playing style.

Don’t make one of the most common tennis betting mistakes and think that weather does not have an impact on the match. At a professional level every detail count, which means that playing on conditions that don’t suit your style can make a difference in the end.

Analyze Players’ Recent Results

This is a point that applies to pretty much all surfaces, but we believe that is even more important on clay. The last thing you want is to bet on a player who is on a losing streak and lacks confidence in his game.

On clay this is even more important since there are no free points on this surface. The courts are much slower than hard court or grass, which means players need to work extra hard to earn points. This means that, betting on a player with low confidence levels can be very dangerous on clay.

The other point you should also investigate is the where the player was recently. Sometimes players compete on different surfaces in consecutive weeks and that is a very hard thing to do. If a player was playing on hard court in the previous week and only lost in the final rounds, this means he will have a very short time to adjust to a different surface.

That said, you should avoid betting, or even fading, players who are competing on clay after a long week in a different surface the week before.

Fade Non-Clay-Court Players

Even though most players are getting more used to play in all surfaces there are still some players who struggle when playing on clay.

There are several reasons why players can’t produce their best tennis on this surface. Some grew up playing on hard court and their shots are simply not good enough to play on clay. One good example is Adrian Mannarino, a former top 25 player who only won 22.39% of the matches played on clay due to his playing style not being suited for the surface.

The other reason for a player to have bad results on clay is not having the proper mindset. Playing on clay is much more physical than any other surface. Players must need to learn to suffer on court and take their bodies to the limit. However, some players simply refuse to do that every week and lose matches for not trying hard enough. Some notorious examples of players who dislike the surface are Nick Kyrgios and Alexander Bublik, two incredible talented athletes.

That said, you should be looking to fade these kind of players who can’t perform at their best on clay. Either because their playing style doesn’t suit surface or simply because they don’t like it and have a bad attitude towards it.

Look for the Schedule of Play

The last point we want to mention is related to the schedule of play. Many tournaments are now having night sessions, including clay court events such as Rome and Roland Garros. This means that playing conditions will be very different according to the schedule of play.

Before placing your bets on a clay-court tournament, you should always look for the schedule of play. It’s important to understand when the match will take place in order to assess if the conditions will benefit any of the players.

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions:

The French Open, also known as Roland Garros, is the most important clay-court tennis tournament in the calendar. If you are new to tennis betting, then Roland Garros is a perfect place to start since all the best players in the world are participating.

You should always analyze if the player is, or not, a clay-court specialist when placing your bets on this surface. Other factors such as the weather conditions and altitude can also play a big role in the outcome of the match.

To start betting on clay you just need access to a sportsbook account and money on it. If you are looking for a new place to bet, then we recommend checking our best sportsbooks list with plenty of options available.

+21 | T&Cs Apply
Please remember that betting is speculative. When betting your capital is at risk.
If you have a gambling problem and need help, call 1-800 GAMBLER
+18 | T&Cs Apply
Gamble Responsibly! If you need help regarding your gambling habits, please visit www.begambleaware.org
+19 | T&Cs Apply
Gambling can be addictive, please play responsibly
+18 | T&Cs Apply
Gamble Responsibly! If you need help regarding your gambling habits, please visit gamblinghelponline.org.au or call 1800 858 858 for confidential support.
DISCLAIMER: Online Wagering is illegal in some jurisdictions. Tennis Nerd takes no responsibility for your actions. It’s your responsibility to check your local regulations before joining or betting on a sportsbook.