How Long Is A Tennis Match

Tennis is a sport that doesn’t have a clock, so the time of a tennis match varies considerably. 

While no one can say for sure the duration of a tennis match, there are some ways that you can predict the length of the set match. 

But on average, how long is a tennis match? Here’s the answer..

The game varies depending on the surface of the tennis court

A game on grass courts encourages shorter rallies, therefore, shorter sets.

The sets are below 40 minutes.

The game on slow clay courts has longer rallies, so there are more extended sets. The sets at the French Open are over 40 minutes. 

In practice, some sets only take 15 minutes. However, some sets can take over an hour of gameplay.

duration

There are mathematical studies that estimate the average length of tennis games under various circumstances, which we can use to derive the possible time.

In 2017, three people, namely Ferrante, Pontarollo, and Fonseca, covered this topic. In the research paper, the researchers found out that a set takes 40 minutes on average.

Length Per Format

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Three Set Match

These best of three sets of tennis matches, like most Masters 1000, are easier to predict time-wise. The players are in their best shape throughout the match and tournament in this number of formats. They can swing their tennis racket with plenty of power to hit the ball in the opposing service box and score a point. Learn how to keep score in tennis here

A best of three sets of tennis matches is anywhere from 30 minutes to 45 minutes for a tennis player to win. Yes, even when both players are at two different skill levels, it’s going to take a long duration for a player to reach the minimum 48 points to win the tennis match in a best-of-three match. 

A competitive best-of-three tennis match can exceed over 3 hours. The tiebreak at the end of the set helps. The older former relies on one of the tennis players winning two games in the last set to get the prize money.

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Five Set Match

A best-of-five is over in three sets, four sets, or five sets. Assuming each of the sets runs at 40 minutes, it indicates that most tennis matches take two to three hours and twenty minutes.

The best-of-five number of formats can progress faster. If you’re playing a one-sided match, the final set can be completed within an hour. However, some sets go over five hours or even more.

The longest match took place at Wimbledon in 2010. John Isner and Nicolas Mahut went against each other. Isner won against the opponent. The points were 6–4, 3–6, 6–7, 7–6, 70–68. 

The match was 11 hours and 5 minutes long, and it took place over 3 separate days. It was difficult for both players to break serve because of exhaustion. 

Due to this, the organizers made a tie-break at 12-12 in the fifth set to avoid 11-hour long tennis matches.

College

The NCAA matches start with a round of doubles matches. These are played over a set. The NCAA matches have no lets, and the deuces are played.

In comparison to professional tennis matches, the games are over quickly. A round of doubles is between 30 minutes to 45 minutes. 

As soon as it’s over, the six singles match starts. Whoever gets 6 games first against the opponent wins. The tennis match is played best out of three. However, the final set is a 10-point tie-break.

Using the NCAA tennis rules, a tennis match for singles rounds within two hours, and the whole tennis match takes anywhere between two to three hours.

college tennis

Tennis games in college are shorter, and the matches won’t go over 3 hours. 

High School

Currently, there isn’t any universally adopted format for the high school tennis game. However, the tennis game begins with boys’ and girls’ doubles rounds.

After which, the tennis game is followed by a mixed doubles game, and then the format moves on to singles matches. 

The game does not use the no-ad scoring system, meaning the variability of the games is greater. Certain states wherein the matches are four hours long as anyone in local high school tennis can join.

There are shorter matches, though, such as the Fast4.

Factors That Affect the Duration of Matches

factors

Tiebreak Situation

A major tennis tournament, such as the Davis Cup, has implemented a tiebreak situation, which prevents the matches from going on too long. 

The tiebreak plan in Wimbledon begins at 12-12 in the fifth tennis set. If the match goes to his score, a seven-point tiebreaker takes place to determine the winner. 

As for the US Open and Australian Open, it starts at the seven-point tiebreak. It is when the points are 6-6 in the fifth set.

Coaching

The Grand Slams prohibit coaching in the matches for both men and women’s tennis. The ATP does not allow coaching as well in the events like the Grand Slam.

The athletes will not receive any form of coaching, which includes during the warm-up in the Grand Slams. There is no audible or visible coaching allowed.

Breaks

The ATP allows the guys to go on two bathroom breaks in a best-of-five format. As for the women’s tennis, they are only allowed one break, but the matches are shorter. They only need to win two sets out of three.

FAQS

Yes, a match can go on forever if the sets do not have tie breakers. Whoever wins the tie break wins the set.

The longest tennis match ever played is the 2010 Wimbledon, which was over 11 hours and 5 minutes. It took place over three days. John Isner won against his opponent, Nicolas. (1)

Can You Predict How Long a Tennis Match Will Last?

It is impossible to know how long a tennis match will last, so the answer to the question is no. In that sense, tennis is quite similar to baseball. 

The longer the matches are, the better and the more competitive the players are, so the more difficult it is to win a set as you need to score two points in a row to claim the game.

However, after some time, fans begin to lose interest because of the long-drawn-out games. 

It’s good to know that most major tournaments are already placing measures to ensure the experience in the 2010 Wimbledon does not repeat itself.

References:

  1. https://www.atptour.com/en/news/isner-mahut-wimbledon-2010-10-year-anniversary

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