By - Sara Mills

Tennis games last how long?

Tennis matches frequently go on for a very long time. The scoring system is such that many momentum breakdowns and battles might appear to go forever, whether at the most significant professional level or just a local club match.

While this could seem enjoyable while you are in the middle of a game, it can also lead to many problems.

Booking courts at the recreational level is challenging for a few reasons. First, it’s difficult to predict when a match will end precisely. It is a bigger problem at the professional level because TV networks find it challenging to plan their schedules around games whose length they need clarification.

Additionally, only ardent tennis fans may watch a five-hour match, which could limit the amount of advertising revenue that is made.

Similar to other timed sports like soccer or basketball, tennis players may be able to earn less than they could otherwise. So, even if we tennis fans enjoy watching drawn-out, dramatic matches, the sport would benefit from a little more predictability.

A few strategies used in the professional game to speed up matches have begun to filter down to the grassroots level.

The Next Gen ATP Finals and other prestigious competitions have adopted the Fast4 scoring system, which shortens the game. Instead of 6, sets are played to 4, and tie breaks are decided by a score of 5 instead of 7. There are also no lets, so if the ball on a serve lands in the service box after coming off the net tape, it is still in play!

Even the now-ubiquitous championship tiebreak was sometimes a given in the tennis world. It is now frequently used to shorten matches by skipping a complete deciding set on the professional doubles circuit and at the club level worldwide.

A shot clock has recently been used on the professional circuit to hold players accountable between points. This decision caused considerable debate initially since it was believed that players should exercise some restraint after a long, arduous end because it takes much longer to recover than striking an ace.

However, it appears to have successfully assimilated into the tennis community and is now well-liked by both spectators and players.

Tennis matches may occasionally drag on for a long time, and we’ve seen some examples of how the establishment has attempted to cut them short. But why can tennis matches drag on for so long in the first place? Let’s find out, then!

What Affects a Tennis Match’s Length?

How long a tennis match lasts ultimately depends on a variety of variables. Opponents, court surfaces, and weather all come into play. These factors affect whether a game lasts six hours or only one hour!

Opponents

Of course, how evenly matched the two players are is the primary factor in determining how long a tennis match will last! It could result in a war of attrition or a complete victory.

Sometimes you’ll see a highly-ranked player who isn’t playing their best against a guy who is lower-ranked but has nothing to lose, and the game can turn into an absolute classic.

Examples include the 2016 Australian Open match between Djokovic and Simon, which Novak won despite making over 100 unforced errors. The contest went the distance in five unpredictable sets. Federer was two sets down when he faced Falla at the 2010 Wimbledon Championships. He eventually returned, but the poorly ranked lefty gave Federer a great scare.

Sometimes, a player’s performance on a given day influences the result of a match rather than their reputation or rating.

Weather

Tennis matches have historically been prolonged in large part due to the weather. Games have been extended by rain delays, especially at the grand slam level, where the schedules are so congested.

Even strong winds might affect how long a match lasts. Players typically play with much more room for error in these challenging conditions, striking the ball higher over the net and more slowly than in calm situations. The length of the rally and, ultimately, the match grows as a result.

Surface

The average length of a match is frequently influenced by the court surface on which it is played.

For instance, shorter points are typically preferred because the ball tends to bounce lower and move over the court more quickly on a high-speed surface, such as indoor hard courts or grass courts.

Players who like to take the ball early, hit it flatter, have strong serves and groundstrokes, and want to finish points at the net benefit from this. The facts on these kinds of surfaces are hence naturally shortened.

In contrast, a prolonged surface like clay tends to lengthen rally lengths because players can cover more territory by sliding around the court, the ball bounces higher and moves through the court more slowly, and there is more excellent room for error. It naturally lengthens a match in comparison to, say, playing on a grass court.

The All-Time Longest and Shortest Matches

The matchup between adversaries is the critical element affecting how long a tennis match lasts. A game can end very quickly if the playing level is off on the day, regardless of the court’s surface or the weather, even if it is being played on a slow clay court. Additionally, Wimbledon’s grass courts had the longest game ever played!

By reading on, check out some of the longest and shortest professional matches!

Isner vs. Mahut, 2010 Wimbledon

One of the most incredible sporting events ever was the legendary marathon between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut in 2010, which enthralled sports enthusiasts worldwide. The match’s final set lasted 11 hours and 5 minutes, and won 70-68. Even though Isner ultimately prevailed, both players were given trophies to commemorate the historic occasion after the match.

2013 Davis Cup match: Berdych/Rosol vs. Wawrinka/Chiudinelli

During the 2013 Davis Cup, a match between Stan Wawrinka and Marco Chiudinelli of Switzerland and Tomas Berdych and Lucas Rosol of the Czech Republic lasted an absurdly long time. This doubles match lasted seven hours and one minute and were a gripping contest. In the fifth set, the Czechs prevailed 24-22.

Due to the quicker points and frequent finishes at the net in doubles matches, it is all the more astonishing that this match lasted up to 7 hours!

Isner vs. Anderson at Wimbledon 2016

In the 2016 tournament’s semifinals, Kevin Anderson and John Isner engaged in another arduous duel on the grass courts of Wimbledon. After 6 hours and 36 minutes of intense competition between these two powerful servers that had the audience on its feet, Anderson from South Africa eventually prevailed 26-24 in the fifth set.

French Open 1988: Graff vs. Zvereva

On the other hand, tennis great Steffi Graff defeated Natasha Zvereva 6-0, 6-0 in the French Open final in 1988, taking the match in just 34 minutes. It was the first and only double bagel in a grand slam final, demonstrating Steffi’s unmatched dominance.

Surrey Open, Harper vs. Sandiford, 1946

At the 1946 Surrey Open, Harper defeated Sandiford in one of the matches played in the fewest time—18 minutes! Harper won 6-0 6-0 with just one point lost in the process.

Miami Masters 2014: Nieminen versus Tomic

The 2014 Miami Masters match between Nieminen and Tomic was a more recent example of a complete rout. The Finn won the match 6-0 6-1 in just 28 minutes. Tomic, an Australian, is renowned for occasionally tanking games, but this was a new low for him.

Takeaways

Tennis matches can last minutes to hours, depending on how evenly matched the opponents are, the court surface, and the playing circumstances.

It’s challenging to plan TV shows and even reserve tennis courts at your local club when a match can be finished in less than ten hours or less. At the professional level, games can go on for hours since there is so much money, prestige, and status at stake.