South Bay Grand Prix
South Bay Grand Prix
Ask The Official

Order of service in a tie-breaker
by Anonymous

Q: In a tie-breaker, what are the rules regarding the order of service, switching sides, etc? What side do you start the next set on?

A: There are now several types of tiebreakers. The two most common are the traditional 7-point Set Tiebreak, and the new 10-point Match Tiebreak. The use of each is decided by a tournament committee before play begins, or at any time by players in non-tournament matches.

The Set Tiebreak can be used when a set score reaches 6-all. The player who is due to serve next starts serving the tiebreak. They serve only 1 point, to the deuce court. The next player due to serve serves 2 points, starting in the "add" court. Players then serve 2 points each, in rotation, starting in the "add" court. Players switch ends after each 6 points (a player will serve the sixth point of the tiebreak to the "add" court and the seventh point, after switching ends to the deuce court). This continues until one team reaches 7 with a margin of at least 2 points (e.g., 7-2, 7-5; 8-6, 24-22, etc.)

At the conclusion of the tiebreak, players switch ends. The team who started serving in the tiebreak set, receives in the set following a tiebreak.


If a Match Tiebreak is played in lieu of a third set, the same process is followed as in the Set Tiebreak, with the following modifications:

1. The winner of the Match Tiebreak (and thus, the match) is the first team to reach 10 points (by a margin of at least 2 points).

2. No ball change (use the same balls as used for the previous set).

3. A set break (of up to 2 minutes) is allowed prior to starting the Match Tiebreak (no coaching!).

4. No switching of ends to start the tiebreak (return to same ends after the set break, if one is taken).

5. In doubles, either team may change the serving order of their team, and either team may change their receiving positions, for the duration of the tiebreak (as you can at the start of any new set).

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Jim Flood Jim Flood has been a USTA Professional Tennis Official for many years and has officiated at many of the biggest and most prestigious USTA professional tournaments, including the U.S. Open. He is also a computer instructor and multimedia specialist and also fills his spare time as a commercial actor and voiceover artist. Jim's motto is: "Play by the rules."

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