How Long do Tennis Matches Last? – Part 2

Factors that influence the length of a tennis match

There are a number of factors that influence how long a tennis match will ultimately last.

Opponents, court surfaces and weather conditions all play their part and determine whether a match will take 6 hours or under an hour.


Of course, the main factor determining how long a tennis match will last is how evenly matched the two players are!

This can either create a war of attrition or an absolute whitewash. You sometimes see even a very highly ranked player who is having an off-day playing a lower-ranked player who has nothing to lose and the match can become an absolute classic.

Some examples that come to mind include Djokovic vs Simon 2016 Australian Open. Djokovic hit over 100 unforced errors and still managed to win the match in 5 topsy turvy sets.

When Federer played Falla at the 2010 Wimbledon Championships and found himself 2 sets down, he managed to turn it around in the end but the lowly-ranked lefty gave him a real fright.

Sometimes, it’s only the form of the player on the day rather than their ranking or reputation that determines the outcome of a match.


Weather is something that has played a major role in extending tennis matches throughout history.

Rain delays have seen matches span over multiple days, particularly at Grand Slam level where the schedules are so tightly packed. Big investment in covered courts by the Slams has helped tremendously.

Even heavy winds can influence the length of a match. In these testing conditions players will tend to play with a lot more margin for error, hitting the ball higher over the net and at a slower pace than in calm conditions.

This naturally increases the rally length and ultimately the duration of the match.


The court surface a match is played on tends to impact the average length of the match.

For example, a very fast surface such as indoor hard courts or grass courts will tend to favour shorter points, as the ball tends to bounce lower and  move more quickly through the court.

This favours players that like to take the ball early, hit flatter and have big serves, big groundstrokes and like to come into the net to finish the points. This naturally shortens the points on these surfaces.

By contrast, a very slow surface such as clay tends to extend the rally lengths due to the ball bouncing higher and moving through the court less quickly. Players are thus able to cover more ground by sliding around the court and playing with a margin for error.

This of course extends the length of a match compared to playing on a grass court for example.

The Longest and Shortest recorded Matches of All Time

With all that being said, the matchup between the opponents is the main factor determining the length of a tennis match.

Regardless of the surface or weather conditions, if there is a miss-match on the day a match can be over very quickly, even if it is played on a slow clay court.

The longest match of all time was actually contested on the grass courts of Wimbledon!

Isner vs Mahut Wimbledon 2010

The classic marathon that captivated sports fans around the world in 2010 between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut remains one of the most unbelievable sporting spectacles ever.

The match lasted 11 hours and 5 minutes and finished 70-68 in the final set. Isner ultimately took the win, but both players were presented with trophies at the end of the match to mark the historic event.

If you have 11 hours to spare you can watch the match here!

Iconic worlds longest tennis match

Graff vs Zvereva

By contrast, the shortest match for a Grand Slam final was played by tennis legend Steffi Graff when she won the French Open final in 1988, defeating Natasha Zvereva 6-0, 6-0 in just 34 minutes.

This was the first and only double bagel in a Slam final and showed just how dominant Steffi could be!

34 minutes spare time is a bit more manageable than 11 hours! Here’s the video below

Shortest match in history

Similar Posts