The Longest Tennis Rallies of All Time

Longest Tennis Rallies

The game styles that players prefer in tennis vary from player to player. Many of today’s best tennis players prefer aggressive groundstrokes from the baseline, as opposed to serving and volleying like the old-school players.

Although there are some players who love long rallies no matter who they’re playing against! Here are some of the longest tennis rallies ever, why some rallies last so long, and which players love them!

What Is A Rally In Tennis?

Longest Tennis Rallies

A rally in tennis is a series of shots played back and forth between players during the course of a point. There is no one scoring as you bounce the ball back and forth.

Most of the time, these only last 4-5 shots. However, there are times when they can last for quite a while.

Why Do Rallies Last So Long? 

Longest Tennis Rallies

There will be long rallies in a match between two fairly evenly matched-players.

To reduce your own unforced error count, it is obviously beneficial to be as consistent as possible while playing tennis.

In the past, tennis was not a game defined by attrition, as faster courts, lighter tennis balls, and less powerful rackets made serving and volleying more popular.

The net-rushing game style was a big success for big players like Pete Sampras, Boris Becker, and Goran Ivanisevic because precision play paid dividends.

In recent years, tennis has become much more about outlasting your opponent from the baseline than picking up volleys from the net as rackets, strings, and balls have become more advanced, as well as major strides have been made in fitness and endurance.

It is much easier for professional players nowadays to pass net rushers than it was a few decades ago.

The men’s and women’s games today feature more consistent game styles, thanks to players such as Andre Agassi, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, and David Nalbandian.

Rather than mastering the art of serve and volley, many beginners and younger players are taught to remain consistent from the baseline today, which naturally breeds a culture of rallying rather than hitting winners outright.

Tennis these days is characterized by many long rallies because of these reasons.

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Lovers of long rallies

While some players prefer to finish points on their own terms, such as Federer, Del Potro, and Roddick, others prefer to grind down their opponents with bruising rallies.

You won’t believe the number of players who simply love long rallies that are out there!

Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal

In order to win his matches, the king of clay relies on his incredible fitness levels to wear down his opponents.

It is true that he has a great deal of skill and over the course of his career he has developed an aggressive game style, utilizing his monstrous forehand and improving his serve to open up the court. In spite of that, Nadal certainly enjoys using long rallies to smash his opponents.

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

Using his insane flexibility and court coverage, the Serbian superstar is arguably the best defensive player of all time.

When his opponents are sending down thumping groundstrokes, Djokovic is able to stay in rallies thanks to his strong return of serve and the ability to keep the ball deep no matter where he is located on the court.

When the going gets tough, he relies on long rallies to draw out errors from his opponents despite becoming more aggressive with age.

Agnieszka Radwanska

Agnieszka Radwanska

Among the most intelligent and talented players in tennis history, Aga Radwanska is without a doubt one of the best. 

In order to win points, she relied more on positioning and out-thinking her opponent than on power.

Her agility and court awareness helped her win points even when she was defensively positioned.

Diego Schwatzman

Diego Schwatzman

The Argentine ace Diego Schwatzman is known for his unrivalled consistency and long rallies.

While he doesn’t have the big serve or crushing groundstrokes of some of his contemporaries, his unbelievable foot speed and consistency help him win a lot of matches.

His quickness around the court, his ability to track down every ball, and the quality of his shots are legendary. As soon as his opponent has been manoeuvred out of position, he can get into points and hit into the open court.

Kimiko Date Krumm

Kimiko Date Krumm

Known for her unique game style in Wiley, Kimiko Date Krumm absorbed the opponent’s pace and used it to her advantage.

In spite of her opponent’s best efforts, she was always able to redirect the ball with incredible accuracy, always forcing him to take one more shot. Rather than overpowering her opponents, she prefers to win rallies using angles, drop shots, and outmanoeuvering them.

Since Kimiko’s matches tend to have many long rallies, it is common to see many long rallies.

Andy Murray

Andy Murray

Andy Murray is the player who will stand up for himself in a drawn-out exchange. In addition to his consistent play, the two-time Olympian has a warrior mentality and fitness that helps him stay in points and make one more shot.

A very talented and crafty player, Murray enjoys using drop shots, lobs, and passing shots to interrupt an opponent’s rhythm. As a whole, Murray’s default mode is to play heavy groundstrokes and outlast his opponents from the baseline.

Gilles Simon

Gilles Simon

In addition to Gilles Simon, there are a few other players who like to wear their opponents down and rely mainly on their fitness levels. In 2009, he reached a career-high of world number 6 despite having a slim build so could never generate major power.

Eventually, he outlasted his opponents because of his incredible ability to chase down balls and anticipate plays. 

It is well known that Simon was one of the most consistent players and did not give his opponents an easy time.

Angelique Kerber

Angelique Kerber

With his athleticism, grit, and compact swings, left-handed legend Abgelique Kerber turns defense into attack by redirecting his opponent’s heavy groundstrokes.

Throughout her three grand slam victories, she has consistently extended rallies to drain her opponents mentally and physically.

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The Longest Tennis Rallies in History

Frediani vs Pecci: Grosseto Italy 2017

The longest rally of all time has been officially recorded. In 2017, Simone Frediani and Daniele Pecci achieved the Guinness World Record for 51,283 shots rallies. It took more than 12 hours for the attempt to be completed!

Sampras vs Agassi US Open 1999

In 1997, bitter rivals Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi played a very long rally at the US Open. There were 51 shots exchanged during the epic rally. The tournament would be won by Agassi.

Nelson vs Hepner Richmond Virginia US 1984

It was played by Vicki Nelson and Jean Hepner at the 1984 Virginia Slims tournament in Richmond Virginia where the longest rally in professional tennis was recorded.

A heroic 643 shots were made in 29 minutes by these brave women in their epic tiebreak that lasted one hour and 47 minutes. Nelson eventually won the match over Hepner after a total of 6 hours and 31 minutes.

Borg vs Vilas French Open 1978

In the 1978 French Open final, Bjorn Borg faced Guillermo Vilas, one of the greatest clay court players of all time. Borg defeated Vilas in straight sets despite the fact that Vilas was the defending champion.

Vilas clearly felt the effects of the 86-stroke rally they played in the match, which was one of the highlights of the match.

Djokovic vs Nadal US Open 2013

The rivalry between Djokovic and Nadal is arguably the greatest in tennis history. There have been 58 matches between these two rivals in history, which is the most of any tennis rivalry.

At the 2013 US Open, the pair also shared one of tennis’ biggest stages.

Djokovic broke Nadal’s serve with a 55-shot rally to lead the second set 4-2 in the final. The title would eventually be won by Nadal in four sets over Djokovic.

Simon vs Monfils Australian Open 2013

On our list, Gael Monfils and Gilles Simon came out on top with one of the longest and most grueling rallies. It was crazy to watch this 71-shot rally at 4-4 in the second set, especially at such a crucial point.

Furthermore, they produced a 60-shot rally during their match at the 2011 Hamburg Open, so they are definitely capable of pushing each other.

Mahut vs Granollers Davis Cup 2018

Two veterans of the sport clashed during France’s Davis Cup match against Spain in 2018. The Spaniard won 13-11 in the decisive tiebreak of the final set against Nicolas Mahut after an 84-shot rally.

At the time of this rally, the couple was clearly playing for the crowd as the majority of shots were backhand slices.

Are Rallies Faster On Hard Tennis Courts?

Generally speaking, hard courts are considered to be faster than clay courts. When it comes to rallying, people may find that playing on a hard court speeds up the process.

Despite that, it may not always be the case that players will have a brief match or rally on hard courts: but data and observation certainly suggest so.

One of the main disadvantages of clay tennis courts is the increased energy required to maneuver them. Clay courts become harder to play on as weather and conditions change, while hard courts remain more predictable.

Check out this guide to all types of tennis courts for more information about different types of tennis courts and their advantages.

How Many Shots Are In A Regular Rally?

It is most common for rallies to last between three and four shots 70% of the time. This isn’t to say that long rallies don’t happen, but professional players with advanced skills are more likely to participate in them.

Both men and women can play, so there is no sex-based advantage. A rally length between 5-8 shots occurs about 20% of the time, and a rally length of nine shots or more occurs 10% of the time.

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What is the longest rally in a tennis tournament?

In October 1984, Vicky Nelson and Jean Hepner played a 643-time rally over the net during a tournament at Richmond, VA. The match lasted 6 hours and 22 minutes and was won by Nelson 6-4, 7-6. The tiebreak ended after 1 hour 47 minutes, with one point taking 29 minutes to score.

What is the world record for the longest rally?

In Grosseto, Italy, on 11 June 2017, Simone Frediani and Daniele Pecci (both from Italy) achieved the longest tennis rally with 51,283 strokes.


During some of the most fierce rivalries of all time, we have witnessed some of the most exciting and longest rallies in history. Despite the fact that not all players enjoy these extended exchanges, they are always entertaining to watch and can set new world records!

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