Tennis is played in almost every country in the world and differs from many other sports covered by Reuters in that it is equally popular among women and men, both as spectators and participants. The women’s game is as high profile and almost as lucrative for top professionals as the men’s.

The men’s circuit run by the ATP consists of dozens of tournaments round the world, the most important of which are the Masters Series tournaments. Players are ranked by Entry System rankings which are based on results over a rolling 12-month period and are used to determine seedings for tournaments and also by the Champions Race which determines who is doing best that season and who will be ranked number one at the end of the year. Masters Series Tournaments offer more points.

The women’s circuit is run by the WTA and uses only one set of rankings. Men’s and women’s tournaments are usually run separately and last a week.

In contrast, the biggest four (grand slam) tournaments – the Australian Open (January), French Open (May/June), Wimbledon (June/July) and U.S. Open (August/September) – hold women’s and men’s tournaments together and last two weeks. They are run by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) which also runs the international competitions for men (Davis Cup) and women (Fed Cup). Davis and Fed Cup ties are staged over a weekend usually with four singles and a doubles match played.

Women always play best of three sets. Men play best of three, except in grand slams, Davis Cup and some Masters finals when they play best of five sets.

The U.S. has produced the most top tennis players, but the sport is truly international with men and women from Australia, Sweden, Russia, Argentina, Brazil, Spain, Germany, Czech Republic, Yugoslavia and Switzerland in the number one spot at some time during the last 20 years.

The game is played on different surfaces, from the fast grass of Wimbledon, through hard and synthetic surfaces to the slow clay of the French Open. Different players are suited to different surfaces. Tall, powerful serve-and-volleyers prefer grass and fast hard courts while clay favours players who pound from the baseline with long rallies. Spanish players are renowned for their expertise on clay.

Tennis, with its money and glamour, produces good colour stories on and off court. Petty jealousies, temper tantrums, tensions over disputed line calls, new prodigies (women’s tennis in particular has produced some very young champions), upsets, unusual outfits (among men and women), accusations of racism are all good angles. As largely a solo sport, the psychological drama of a match is important – how players react to pressure.


Most tournaments have their own websites. Check or for links.

The desk will advise coverage requirements. For tournaments outside the Masters with a top-five player taking part we shall usually ask for an early lead only on merit and a wrap at the end of the day. If there is a big development, a top seed knocked out for example or a top-level injury, these can be become quick 4 para separates. Interesting or offbeat idebars, which may be quite short, are always welcome, as are interviews with players.

For bigger tournaments, such as Masters Series and grand slams, coverage will be beefed up with sports desk staff or stringers and we shall need more frequent leads, newsbreaks and four-para separates on selected top-name matches. We shall also need statistics boxes (number of aces, double faults, winning shots at the net etc) on certain matches. WTA and ATP provide statistics on-site at tournaments. At most tournaments we do not cover doubles unless something particularly newsworthy happens or they produce a bright. At grand slams we offer copy from later stages. For Davis Cup world group matches we will need stories after each match and a wrap with quotes. Other matches will require results with copy as advised by Sports Desk, but any ties involving top players will need to be covered.

The home countries of top players should also generate stories – interviews, human interest, injuries, recovery times, births, deaths, marriages, tax evasion, broom cupboard conceptions etc. The best and most colourful players, Boris Becker, John McEnroe, Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf remain newsworthy after they retire.

Style points

  • Tiebreak, backhand, forehand, topspin wildcard, netcord - all one word.
  • Double fault, drop shot, match point, set point, break point, prize money – all two words.
  • Claycourt, grasscourt, hardcourt – all one word when used as adjectives but two words when adjective and noun. e.g. Spanish claycourt expert Carlos Moya takes on Richard Krajicek whose style is better suited to the grass courts of Rosmalen, Queen’s and Wimbledon.
  • grand slam – lower case.
  • Masters Series – capitals.
  • Defeat by – not to.
  • Avoid clichés – … crashed out … marathon match (or set) … hard fought … dug deep … bounced back etc. Do not describe tournaments whether grand slams or Masters Series as “majors” (as in golf) as this is a confusing and imprecise term.
  • Sets – shown without commas e.g 3-6 6-4 6-4 (never 6-3, 6-4, 6-4) and the winner’s details are given first even if the crux of the story concerns the loser, e.g. Champion Roger Federer slumped out of Wimbledon on Saturday going down 6-7 7-6 6-4 6-1 to Spaniard Jose Fernandez …
  • Scores – in match reports we should try to get scores into the first paragraph. Rather than say, for example … Serena Williams beat Justine Henin in straight sets on Saturday … give the score. It offers more information more quickly.

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