The United States Tennis Association has endorsed the 10-point match tiebreak in lieu of a final set. When the score is two sets all in a best-of-three-sets tennis match or two sets all in a best-of-five-sets match, the match tiebreak is played to decide the winner. The player or team who first reaches 10 points by a margin of two points over the opponent(s) is the winner.
Start of Tiebreak
Between the end of the second set and the start of the match tiebreak, there is a 120-second break during which no coaching is allowed. The balls may not be changed before the start of the match tiebreak. When using the match tiebreak to replace the final set, the original order of service continues. In doubles, the order of serving and receiving within the two members of a team may be switched.
The player who is next up to serve serves the first point in the tiebreak, beginning from the right or deuce court. The following two points are served by the opposing side. In doubles, this will be the player of the opposing team due to serve next. That means after the first point of the tiebreak, each player begins serving on an odd point, from the left or ad court.
Each player or team serves alternately for two consecutive points until the end of the tiebreak; in doubles, the order of service within each team remains the same order as during that set. Players change ends at the start of the tiebreak only if an odd number of games were played to end the second set, like 6-1 or 6-3. During the match tiebreak, players change ends after every six consecutive points have been played.
Match tiebreak points are scored 1, 2, 3 and so on. Play must be continuous during the tiebreak with no rest periods during any change of ends. The tiebreak score is written 1-0 (x), with "x" being the number of points won by the loser of the tiebreak. For example, 1-0 (10) indicates a match tiebreak score of 12-10. The match tiebreak format is commonly used to shorten matches when many teams are competing in a tournament and also in senior competition.
Lexa W. Lee is a New Orleans-based writer with more than 20 years of experience. She has contributed to "Central Nervous System News" and the "Journal of Naturopathic Medicine," as well as several online publications. Lee holds a Bachelor of Science in biology from Reed College, a naturopathic medical degree from the National College of Naturopathic Medicine and served as a postdoctoral researcher in immunology.