2024 Australian Open format: Tie break and number of sets explained

Ever been curious about how things like the Australian Open tie break rules work? We’ve explained this and other confusing rules right here so you can watch Australian Open matches without wondering about these rules.

Australian Open format – quick introduction

Given the many differences between singles vs doubles, men’s vs women’s events, and other intricate details, it’s normal to be curious about the Australian Open format. Therefore, we figured we’d take the opportunity to explain some key rule adaptations and the general format for those in the dark. On that note, the Australian Open has followed suit and adopted certain rules seen with other Grand Slams in recent times.

So if you are clued up on the rules and formats from other Grand Slam events, you may already be ahead of the game. But regardless of your current knowledge of these details, by the time you are done reading through the information here, you’ll be an expert!

Meanwhile, if you’re interested in some other information regarding this tournament, like Australian Open prize money, you’ll be able to find that on our website too.

Australian Open tie break rules

Since the Australian Open tie break rules are some of the most misunderstood of all, let us start with this. For the last few years, there has been pressure on all Grand Slams to keep matches concise concerning the final set.

So, it was decided a few years back, the Australian Open now follows a 10-point tie break format to decide the match if it goes to 6-6 in the final set. For the men’s event, this means that a 6-6 score in the fifth set will result in this tie break being played.

Australian Open Format

As for the AO women’s event, if the score goes to 6-6 in the third set, again, this 10-point tie break is played to find a winner. To take things even further regarding the Australian Open tie break rules, let us give you the format for how they are played. For the first point, the server will play just one point on their own serve, and this initial point is always played from the deuce side.

After this first point, the serve then switches over to the other player, and they will serve for two points. Note that the first point is played from the advantage side while the second is played from the deuce side. This then continues until the tie break is finished. However, if the tie break reaches a score of 9-9, a player must win by two clear points.

The best of 3 or best of 5 differences explained

Apart from the tie-break Australian Open format, another rule that is sometimes confused is the number of sets played. Now, the good thing about this one is that it is quite easy to understand, even if you are new to tennis. Essentially, the men play matches as the best of 5 sets, and the women play matches as the best of 3 sets. This is the one and only difference that you need to understand when comparing men’s and women’s events.

However, we should also point out that the doubles events follow a best-of-three set format too. In fact, all of the events in the Australian Open follow a best-of-three format with the exception of the men’s singles. By thinking of it like that, you will know exactly how things work for the individual events concerning sets played.

How many sets played for the different events

We’ve somewhat given the answer away in the section above here, but that’s a good thing. After all, the objective here is to make you familiar with all of the rules when it comes to Australian Open format, including different events.

However, with so many different events taking place, let us give you a snapshot that you can refer to whenever things seem confusing:

  • Men’s singles – best of 5 – tie break at 6-6 in fifth
  • Women’s singles – best of 3 – tie break at 6-6 in third
  • Men’s doubles – best of 3 – tie break at 6-6 in third
  • Women’s doubles – best of 3 – tie break at 6-6 in third
  • Mixed doubles – best of 3 – 10 point tie break for final set
  • Wheelchair singles – best of 3 – tie break at 6-6 in third
  • Wheelchair doubles – best of 3 – 10 point tie break instead of full third
  • Junior events – best of 3 – tie break at 6-6 in the third set

How Australian Open tie break rules have changed over the years

Amazingly, the new Australian Open formats for these events and matches have only been in effect since 2019. Prior to that, the Australian Open required all matches to continue until somebody won by two clear games in the deciding set. Note that this was the case no matter how many sets were played in the match.

Needless to say, this could be particularly grueling for the players involved. Yet in 2019, the Aussie Open joined the other slams by introducing a final set breaker at 6-6.

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