Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
ISSN: 1303 - 2968   
Ios-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Androit-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2024) 23, 1 - 7   DOI:

Research article
Navigating the Court: A Comparison of Distance Demands between Sexes in Grand Slam Tennis
Cameron Armstrong1,2, , Peter Peeling1,3, Alistair Murphy2, Machar Reid1,2
Author Information
1 School of Human Sciences (Exercise and Sport Science), The University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia
2 Tennis Australia, Melbourne, Australia
3 Western Australian Institute of Sport, Perth, Australia

Cameron Armstrong
✉ M408 School of Human Sciences (Exercise and Sport Science) The University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia
Publish Date
Received: 17-03-2023
Accepted: 30-11-2023
Published (online): 01-03-2024

This study analysed critical movement demands of tennis match-play to better inform contemporary approaches to athlete preparation and training. HawkEye data from matches during the 2021 and 2022 Australian Open were utilised. Distance was aggregated for movement cycles, points, games, sets, and matches, alongside total shots played. Data was collated for males (best-of-five sets) and females (best-of-three sets) allowing comparisons both within and between sexes. Overall, no differences within sexes were evident for total distance, however males traversed further per match than females (MDE = 809 ± 139m, ES = 0.86). Female players travelled further in their deciding (third) sets compared to set 1 (ES = 0.28) and while this effect wasn’t as discernible for males, the deciding (fifth) set showed some evidence of elevated distance requirements and variability. Between sexes, only female set 3 was different to male set 3 (ES = 0.29). Female and male tiebreak games (i.e. game 13) required players travel further distance compared to other games (ES = ~1.45). Between sex differences were observed for tiebreak games compared to games 1 to 12 (female ES = 1.36 and male ES = 1.53). Players from both sexes generally covered similar distances during points and movement cycles, with between-shot distances of 4.2m-4.5m, notably longer than previous reports. Further, total shots and total match distance (r > 0.97; p < 0.01) shared similar linear relationships. These results highlight that the between shot or movement cycle demands of professional hard court tennis are substantially higher than described in the literature (Roetert et al., 2003). The findings also reveal competitiveness as a key influence on set level distance demands during professional tennis match-play, a consideration in player preparation programs.

Key words: Professional tennis, movement analysis, movement cycle

           Key Points
  • Between sex differences are evident for match distance in hard court grand slam tennis, largely owing to the difference in format (i.e. best-of-three sets vs. best-of-five sets).
  • No sex differences were present when distance is normalised for number of shots played, supporting differences in total match distance resulting from more shots played by males.
  • Deciding sets (third for females and fifth for males) generally feature elevated distance demands, as do tiebreak games.
  • The average movement cycle distance on hard courts is 4.5m for males and 4.2m for females, where 80% of movement cycles are ~6m or less.
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