The player who scores seven points first wins the tie-break and the set. The player who served first in the set serves the opening point of the tie-break. Their opponent serves the following two points, and the serve alternates every two points after that. If the first player leads 3-1 or 4-1, they will serve for the match after completing their fourth service game. Otherwise, the server will serve until all their games are completed. As soon as a player fails to return a ball in the court properly, the opposing team receives the point called a fault. They can only receive one fault per game during the tie-break.
There is no limit on the number of times a player can be awarded with a third strike before losing the point. Once a player has four faults in a row, they must retire from the point. If a player has not had a chance to hit a ball since they received their last point, the referee will wait for them to rejoin the action before continuing with the next point.
A player can also retire from the point if they wish to rest some muscles or tendons. The referee will wait for them to recover before continuing with the next point.
Finally, a player can retire from the point if they feel it is necessary for health reasons. However, they must do so before the referee calls the next point.
In a tiebreak game, the next person to serve will begin the tiebreak game by serving one point to the deuce side of the court. The tiebreak is won by the first player or team to win seven points by two points. This means that the final score might be very high (e.g., 15-13) or as low as 7-0 through 7-5. Since it's possible to get to seven points without winning a game, the term "seven-point game" is also used.
The aim is for the server to try and win the point by getting a ball over the net into the opponent's court. There are several methods used by servers to achieve this goal:
Aces: When served completely out of court, these balls go straight down the middle of the line, which makes them very difficult to return. If a server serves an ace, they will usually try and do so at least once in the set to show they can hit the shot well. While hitting a perfect serve is extremely rare, even some degree of inaccuracy on the part of the server can sometimes be useful because it can force the receiver to move around the court, giving the server an advantage at times when being close to the net would be helpful.
Elevators: With elevators, the server tries to hit the ball up into the air with such force that it lands back in play somewhere else on the court.
The opponent will then serve the next two points, beginning on the ad side. If the score is still tied after five minutes have elapsed, then the referee will announce that there is no clear winner and thus the match continues until one team wins decisively.
The aim is for players to win their service games (aces count as 1 point) and therefore win the set or the match. However, if a player or team fails to win any of their service games they will need to save themselves for another day because they have been defeated. A player who has just served under pressure may be given time to recover before their next game begins. This allows them to regain their form and put up a better fight against their opponent tomorrow.
There are several methods used to determine who serves first in a tiebreak. The most common method is to flip a coin. This is called "heads or tails". The person who loses the toss can choose either side of the court to start with, but cannot change their mind once they have made their choice. There are other methods used such as drawing lots or calling out numbers, but these are less common.
Tiebreaks are played when two or more people are tied at one stage in a tournament.