History of USTA 12-point Tiebreaker

The correct name for the tiebreaker is "USTA 12-point Tiebreaker", not 7-point Tiebreaker。Many people get confused why it is called 12-point tiebreaker when you could win at 7 by a margin of 2 points. The reason is "Best of Twelve". 7 is best of twelve. In another word, you could win 7-5 in twelve points, but you cannot win 6-6. 

Tiebreaker was invented by American James Van Alen  in 1965 to shorten the long tennis matches. It received less than warm acceptance. But in the first round of 1969 Wimbledon Championship, 41 year old American Pancho Gonzales and 25 year old American Charlie Pasarell played 5 sets. The final score is 22-24,1-6,16-14,6-3,11-9。They played for 2 days and the match lasted 5 hours and 12 minutes. In 1970, Wimbledon decided to introduce the tiebreaker in the championship for all sets reaching 6-6 except the 5th set. Australian Open and French Open used the same rule as Wimbledon. The US Open also started using tiebreaker in 1970. And tiebreaker is used in all sets including the 5th set. 

Tiebreaker rules:

  1. The player who just served to even the set at 6-6 will receive the serve in the tiebreaker. The score is counted by 1, 2, 3...instead of 15, 30, 45.
  2. To counter the advantage of serving, the player who start serving in the tiebreaker will only serve one point. 
  3. Then the opponent serves twice, starting at the ad court on the other side. Your opponent serves point#2 on the ad court and point#3 on the deuce court. Players taking turn serving 2 points until the end of tiebreaker.
  4. At 6 points total, or any multiple of 6 points total, players switch sides
  5. The first player to reach 7 points wins the tiebreaker with a margin of 2 points to win the tiebreaker. For example, you could win at 7-0, 7-1, 7-2, 7-3, 7-4, 7-5, 8-6, 9-7.
  6. Tiebreaker is treated like a game. At the conclusion of the tiebreaker, the score is recorded as 7-6. Many tournaments require the score of the tiebreaker as well. For example; 7-6(9) means 7-6(11-9) and 7-6(0) means 7-6(7-0). You only need to report the loser's points of the tiebreaker.
  7. Also since tiebreaker is a game, the player who served the first point of the tiebreaker will receive in the first game of the new set. And the players switch sides based on the starting position of the tiebreaker. For example, if you were at the south end of the court at the beginning of the tiebreaker, you need to start the first game of the new set at the north end.     
  8. In doubles, follow the tiebreaker rules and players take turn serving according to the serving rotation order of the set.