A tie-break is played in both men's and women's tennis, when both the players reach a game score of 6 games all in a set (6-6).
According to tradition, players did not play a tie-break in the final set of a match. A difference of two games was required in the deciding set, while a tie-break was played in any of the earlier sets upon reaching the score of 6-all.
However, with new rules coming in to shorten the length of the game and to reduce the stress and intensity of a long match on the players, a tie-break in the final set has also been introduced.
This year, the Australian Open decided to implement a tie-break in the deciding set too. In the final set (fifth set for men and third set for women), upon reaching the game score of 6-6, a tie break is played now. However, what is different in this tie-break is that at 6-6, it is not a standard tie-break of first to win seven points; the final set tie-break is first to 10 points.
The Australian Open is not the only tournament to start this concept of a final set tie-break. At this year's Wimbledon as well, the final set will see a tie-break being played. However, that tie-break will be played at 12-12 (12 games all) and not at 6-6 (6 games all). And it will be a standard first to seven points tie-break.
Tie-breaks are extremely exciting and interesting to watch because things move really fast, and each point is more crucial than ever. By losing even one point on your serve, the other player gets a mini-break and thus an advantage to win the set.
Tie-breaks are also extremely high pressure situations and require an extra level of concentration and control on your nerves.
However, there are some rules to play a tie-break. Here's a look at them:
1. The player who serves first in a tie-break, has only one serve. The player who starts the tie-break, serves from the deuce court.
2. After the player who starts the tie-break and serves one point, the other player has two serves. And he starts the first point from the ad court (advantage court).
3. After 6 points have been played and after every subsequent 6 points, the players change sides. Thus they change sides when the tie-break score is 5-1, 4-2, 3-3 or 6-0. And once again (if it is a long tie-break) at 6-6, 9-9 etc.
4. A person wins a tie-break when they reach 7 points. If the score reaches 6-6 (six points all), then a difference of two points is required. Thus for a player to win a tie-break the score should be 8-6, 9-7, 10-8 etc.
5. In a tie-break, each player gets one additional challenge. In one set, each player gets 3 challenges. If the score reaches a tie-break, then an extra challenge is given to both the players. Thus in total, the player will get 4 challenges.
6. In a tie-break, the serve keeps rotating after every 2 points. Thus one player will serve 2 points, then the serve will be with the other player for another 2 points, and this continues till one wins the tie-break.