When I watch a tennis match I often wonder how far the players are actually running throughout the game. The court may be small, but with all the quick sprints and sharp changes of direction, I bet it adds up quite a bit.
On average players may run anywhere between 2-5 miles during a 5 set match, but there are many different factors which can affect the actual distance. In a 3 set match, it may be around a 1-2 miles. This doesn’t seem like much, but the body is under a lot of stress with all the sideways running, moving forwards and backwards, jumping and sprinting.
In this article, let’s look at this in more detail, including how far tennis players run in a match in terms of distance, the number of steps they take and how this all compares to other sports.
How far do tennis players run a match?
Unfortunately, there’s no straightforward answer to this question. A lot depends on the court surface, the style of play, the opponent and whether you’re playing a best of 3 or 5-set match.
In Wimbledon 2019, Johanna Konta only ran 1.14 kilometres in her match with Ana Bogdan. However, this is on grass where points tend to be shorter. At Roland Garros in 2018, where rallies are longer, Djokovic ran 4.3 km in his match with Bautista Agut. So you can see there is a huge range in the distances.
Grass is the fastest court surface and therefore points tend to be shorter, especially if a player is finishing points quickly by coming to the net. However, clay is a lot slower and rallies are a lot longer so you’ll likely run a lot more.
Style of play
If you like playing a lot from the baseline, points will last longer and you’ll run further, especially side to side. However, if you like to finish points quickly by rushing to the net, you’ll undoubtedly conserve some energy and run less overall.
If you’re playing a player with a huge serve, points are going to be a lot shorter if they’re bombing down aces left, right and centre. Therefore the distance you run will be less. If you are playing someone with a weaker serve, you’ll be able to return a lot of balls back in the court and get the rally started. However, you’ll likely be running a lot more in a match playing this style of opponent.
What is the average number of steps in a tennis match?
According to Fitbit, the average number of steps during a match at Wimbledon is 9,000. However, at the recreational level, one hour of playing tennis singles is around 10,680 steps (on average). For doubles it’s 7,980.
What sport do you run the most in?
If you look at the chart below, you can see that soccer is leading the distance stats. In fact, midfielders in particular can run huge distances in a soccer match as they have to support the attack and defence. In the 2014/2015 Premier League season, James Milner ran 13.56km (8.4 miles) in a single game!
How many calories do you burn in a tennis match?
On average, the typical recreational player will burn 575-775 calories in per hour in a competitive singles tennis match. However, a lot depends on your weight and playing style. If you are heavier then you will burn calories faster than someone lighter. Also, if you’re someone who likes playing long rallies during a match, you will probably run further and burn more calories than someone who has a big serve and can win lots of quick points.
You can get a rough idea yourself using the American Council of Exercise calculator. Here you just enter your weight and how long you’re playing tennis for. You can also select whether you’re playing double or singles
For myself, I weigh 76kg (167lbs) and if I’m playing singles or doubles it’s usually for 90 minutes. According to their calculator that’s 908 calories for a singles match, and 681 calories for doubles.
How far does Nadal run in a match?
I can’t find the exact figures, but interestingly of all the top players, Nadal runs considerably less in the second set compared to the first. Between 2018 and 2020, on average he ran 3,512 feet (1,070m) in Set 1 and 3,150 feet (960m) in Set 2. Maybe this is because he’s worn down his opponent so much in the first set with his heavy groundstrokes that they can only helplessly hit some weak shots back at him in the second set!
How far does Federer run in a match?
Looking at the same data which I used to see Nadal’s running stats, Federer runs considerably less in a match. He runs just 2,521 feet (768m) n the first set and 2,628 feet (801m) in the second set. This is because he likes to keep points shorter, by coming to the net a lot more to finish off points.
I think we can assume the longest distance run is probably during the longest tennis match of all time. In the epic 2010 match at Wimbledon between Isner and Mahut, each player ran about 6 miles in a match which lasted 11 hours!
It’s hard to give an exact figure, but usually best of 3 set matches are around 90 minutes long, while best of 5 tend to be around 2 hours 45 minutes long.
Yes. Running is great exercise for tennis players as it helps to build up aerobic fitness. In fact, not only does it boost a tennis player’s endurance, it can also boost their overall speed and footwork.