What Is the Difference Between Tie Break and Advantage Set?

What Is an Advantage Set?

What’s an advantage set? In an advantage set, a player or team needs to win six games, by two, to win the set. This means that there’s no tiebreak game played at 6-The set continues until one player/team wins by two games. Advantage sets have been a part of tennis for a long time, and they add an extra level of excitement and drama to the game.

In an advantage set, the pressure is on both players or teams to maintain their performance and not let their opponents gain an advantage. With no tiebreak game to rely on at 6-6, the set can go on for a prolonged period, making it even more challenging for the players. This format tests their endurance, mental fortitude, and ability to handle pressure.

Another difference between the two formats is the strategy that players employ. In a tiebreak set, players may adopt a more aggressive approach, knowing that they’ve a chance to quickly secure the set. However, in an advantage set, players need to balance aggression with consistency, as they’ve to maintain their level of play for a longer period to secure the set.

These sets add an element of unpredictability and excitement, as players push themselves to the absolute limit to secure victory.

Both formats have their own merits, and they contribute to the captivating nature of the sport.

Notable Matches and Performances in Advantage Sets

  • Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal, Wimbledon 2008
  • Novak Djokovic vs. Rafael Nadal, Australian Open 2012
  • Rafael Nadal vs. Juan Martin del Potro, French Open 2018
  • Serena Williams vs. Maria Sharapova, Olympic Games 2012
  • Roger Federer vs. Pete Sampras, Wimbledon 2001

Now that we’ve discussed the basics of set tiebreaks and match tiebreaks, let’s take a closer look at the differences between these two tiebreak formats in tennis.

What Is the Difference Between a Set Tiebreak and a Match Tiebreak?

The main difference between a set tiebreak and a match tiebreak lies in the circumstances in which they’re played. A Set Tiebreak is introduced when a set reaches 6 games all, commonly known as a “6-6” or “tie” situation. In this scenario, instead of continuing to play games until one player wins by a margin of two games, a tiebreak is initiated.

In order to determine the overall winner of the match, a tiebreak is held in lieu of a third set. This system is commonly used in shorter formats of the game, such as doubles matches or in some lower-level tournaments.

In both types of tiebreaks, the first player to reach 7 points is declared the winner of the tiebreak. However, there’s a slight variation in the rules. This means that if the score reaches 6-6, the player must win two consecutive points to secure the set. This ensures a higher level of consistency and eliminates the possibility of a close tiebreak dragging on indefinitely.

In a match tiebreak, also known as a “super tiebreak”, a margin of 2 points isn’t required. This format adds an element of excitement and tension, as every point holds significant weight and can potentially determine the outcome of the match.

Source: Tennis scoring system

Advantage in tennis refers to a player’s score after winning the next point following a deuce. Designated as ‘advantage’ or ‘ad,’ this signifies that the player will secure the game if they triumph in the subsequent point.

What Does Advantage Mean in Tennis?

In tennis, the term “advantage” holds significant importance in determining the outcome of a game. When a game reaches deuce, meaning both players have won three points, the next point becomes crucial. If a player wins this point, their score is denoted as “advantage” or “ad.”. This signifies that they’ve the upper hand and will win the game if they secure the subsequent point.

The advantage concept arises from the need to break the deadlock that occurs when both players reach 40 points. By winning the advantage point, a player gains the momentum and moves closer to claiming victory in the game. It adds an element of suspense and intensity to the match, as the player with the advantage only needs one more point to succeed, while their opponent must win two consecutive points to regain equality.

This advantage system differs from traditional scoring methods, where a player needs to win six games with a two-game margin to secure a set. In an advantage set, however, the player only needs to win one more game after reaching six games, regardless of the score. This rule eliminates the requirement for a two-game lead and streamlines the process, allowing players to advance more efficiently through the tournament.

While the advantage set simplifies the procedure, it also introduces additional pressure for players to hold their advantage and close out the set. With no safety net of a two-game buffer, every point becomes crucial, as losing the advantage can quickly shift the balance in favor of the opponent. Consequently, players must remain focused and composed, knowing that even a single point could make a significant difference between victory and defeat.


In conclusion, the key difference between a tie-break set and an advantage set lies in the way a tie is resolved. This game continues until one side has won seven points with a margin of two or more points. Players continue to play until one side has won at least six games with a margin of two or more games. This fundamental variation in tie resolution adds an exciting and unpredictable element to the game, keeping players and spectators on the edge of their seats. Ultimately, whether it's the thrilling tie-break or the suspenseful advantage set, both formats showcase the skill, determination, and strategic prowess required in the game of tennis.

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