Tennis players aren’t machines, and even the best of them can have bad days from time to time. Due to this, it can be challenging to answer how long tennis matches last. Moreover, there are different formats in tennis as well.
For example, most matches are decided over a best of the three-set match with a tie-break if both sets are equal; however, grand slam matches for men, for example, may extend to a best of five-set matches without a tie-break.
The average tennis best-of-3 match lasts 90 minutes, while the average best-of-5 match lasts approximately two hours and 45 minutes.
Two of the fastest professional tennis matches ever have been played, and there has also been a match that lasted for 11 hours and five minutes.
Average Tennis Set Duration
Researchers have estimated the length of a tennis match under varying conditions, and this could be extrapolated to estimate how long a set would be based on published studies.
An engrossing 2017 paper has been published on numbers and formulae by Ferrante, Pontarollo, and Fonseca.
Tennis sets take an average of just over 40 minutes to complete for those of us without a degree in mathematics.
The length of time varies, though, depending on the court’s surface.
A typical set at Wimbledon generally lasts less than forty minutes since grass courts tend to encourage short rallies.
Moreover, clay courts produce longer rallies, which is why an average set at the French Open lasts much longer than forty minutes.
These are just average values, and in practice, a set can take as little as 15 minutes or as long as an hour to perform.
How Long Does a Three Set Match Take?
When a match is decided over three sets, the same player can win both of them, or a player who has shared the first two sets can win the match in three sets.
It will take about 30 minutes to complete two rapid sets, while two close sets will take two hours.
In a two-set match, it is expected that a match lasting an hour and twenty minutes will take an average of 40 minutes to complete each set.
There is a good chance the match will last around two hours if the first two sets are shared, and a third set is required.
However, there is a possibility that the match will take longer than three hours if all three sets are close, possibly decided by a tie-break.
In the case of very careful play by both players, matches can take much longer than this.
In 1984, Vicki Nelson and Jean Hepner contested a match that lasted 6 hours and 31 minutes, despite Nelson winning in two sets.
How Long Do Five-Set Matches Take?
The winner of a best-of-five-set match will be decided in three, four, or five sets.
Assuming that each set takes 40 minutes would mean that most matches will take between 2 hours and 3 hours 20 minutes to play.
There have been matches in which the result was decided in less than an hour due to one-sidedness, as well as matches in which the final result was determined after more than five hours of play.
The match, however, took much longer than any of the others. Isner defeated Nicolas Mahut at Wimbledon in 2010, winning the match 6–4, 3–6, 6–7, 7–6, 70–68 in a match that lasted 11 hours and 5 minutes, taking place over three days.
Indeed, both players served exceptionally well in the seemingly endless fifth set, which contributed to the prodigious length of this match.
As the match progressed, it became increasingly difficult for them to break serve as they grew weary.
In recent years, Wimbledon has introduced a tie-break at 12-12 in the fifth set to prevent any occurrences like this in the future.
How Long Does College Tennis Take?
The NCAA season begins with doubles matches, played in a single set.
A sudden death deuce is always played in NCAA games, and there are no ‘lets’ in these games.
Because the sets are shorter than in professional matches, you should expect the doubles round to take between 30 and 45 minutes.
Following that, there will be six singles matches. Three sets are played, but a tie-break of ten points decides the final set.
According to the NCAA rules, the singles round should be completed within two hours, and the complete match will take somewhere between two and three hours.
It is unlikely that a college tennis match will last longer than three hours.
What’s The Duration of High School Tennis Matches?
High school tennis matches in the United States do not have a universal format but start with boys/girls doubles, mixed doubles, and singles matches.
As it is not possible to use the no-ad scoring system, the length of matches is much more variable than it is in the NCAA.
In some states, tennis matches may last more than four hours, and in Texas, where matches may involve as many as 19 games, it is not uncommon for matches to last up to six hours.
There have been discussions regarding making matches shorter periodically, which is not surprising.
Tennis matches can range in length from 30 minutes to over three hours.
The long matches tend to be the most dramatic and memorable matches for fans, even if some people think that matches should not be allowed to go too long.