What is a deuce in tennis

what does deuce mean in tennis? - Meaning, use cases and word's origin

With so many tennis-specific terms, it is easy to get lost.

It is a must to understand tennis terminology if you are serious about the sport.

So, let’s get to it.

On this Article

What does deuce mean in tennis?

Deuce in tennis means that a point is tied at 40-40, and an advantage of two points is needed for any player to win the point.

The word deuce is reserved for ties at 40, within a point. 

In all other situations, the word “all” is used.

For example, if the point is tied at 15 or 30, we say the score is 15-all or 30-all.

The only time advantage of two balls is needed to win the point, and we do not call a deuce, is the tiebreak situation: Even though the game might be tied at 6-6, 8-8, or 15-15 (tiebreaks can run indefinitely) and an advantage of two balls is needed to finish the point, we still call the tie by the word “all”. 

An advantage in tennis happens when a player breaks the deuce and gets the advantage of one point in relation to his opponent – Ad-40 or 40-Ad, depending on who’s serving.

If the player who has the advantage scores the next ball, he wins the point. If he loses it, the game returns to deuce. Deuces run indefinitely until one player gets an advantage of two points over the other.

When to use the word Deuce - Scoring examples

We only use the word deuce when referring to a tie at 40, within a single point.

All other ties in tennis scoring are referred to as all (15-all, 30-all, 4-all) or simply tied at X.

If one player manages to break the deuce, it is said to have one point advantage.

If he gets another, the point ends.

If not, the game returns to deuce.

What happens at deuce?

At deuce, one player must win two points in a row for that point to conclude.

Let’s say the game is deuced, and the serving player scores. The game’s score will be Ad-40.

If he manages to score the next ball, he wins the point.

If the receiving player scores that ball, the game returns to deuce.

If the receiving player scores another one, the score will be 40-Ad (in tennis, we always mention the serving player’s score first).

Theoretically, a tennis point can run forever if a deuce can’t be broken by the two points advantage.

Where does the term deuce come from? - word etymology.

While there are no certainties regarding the origin of the word deuce and its use in tennis, it is believed that it comes from the french expression “Deux de Jeux” or simply Deux, which roughly translates to two games (or points) – the advantage needed to win the point.

Another theory is that it comes from the Latin word – duos. 

But, since the french language derives from Latin, the word’s origin remains the same.

Even though the word deuce comes from the french language, it is not used in Roland Garros (The French Open), as in every other major tournament.

In Roland Garros, they shout “égalité”, which means equality.

Go figure.

Deuce and Ad court sides

In tennis, the left and right sides of the court have names -The ad side and the deuce side.

This is due to the side from which you’re serving when the point is tied or at an advantage.

If the game is deuced, the server will serve from its right side – the Deuce side.

If the game turns to an advantage, the server will serve from its left side – Ad (or Advantage) side.

No Ad scoring rule

The no-ad or no-advantage tennis scoring system eliminates the need for a player to get an advantage of two balls to win the point. 

When the no-ad scoring rule is in effect, the player to break the deuce wins the point.

However, this rule is not applied in most professional tennis matches. 

The only exception is in tennis doubles, especially mixed tennis doubles, where this rule is in some high-level tournaments. 

Each tennis tournament has its rules regarding no-ad scoring in doubles matches, so be sure to check that out when watching a tennis match.

Record for most deuces in a single tennis game

The record for the most deuces in a single game is 37, for a total of 80 points. 

It happened in a match between Keith Glass and Anthony Fawcett on May 26th, 1975, at the Surrey Grass Court Championships.

Keith Glass reported that a friend of his, Judy Dawson, started and finished a match in a nearby court by scoring 6-0, 6-0. All while, Keith and Anthony kept playing the same point. 

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