Did you find that the Roland-Garros matches were endless this year? It wasn’t just an impression. Even before the ladies’ and men’s finals of the prestigious Parisian tennis tournament, the 2023 edition has already gone down in history: the singles matches have exceeded duration records.
Eleven games over four hours in 2023
According to data published by the tournament organizer and by the ATP, over the last twenty-five years, the average duration of men’s matches has increased by thirty-one minutes (excluding withdrawals and withdrawals). In 1998, the year of Carlos Moya’s coronation, the clashes of the Porte d’Auteuil tournament lasted 2:23 on average. In 2023, they approached three hours (2:54 a.m.). In the first week, eleven confrontations even exceeded four hours of play.
It was on the Philippe-Chatrier court, in the middle of the night but in a boiling atmosphere, that the Frenchman Gaël Monfils won, on May 31, against the Argentinian Sebastian Baez in the first round, after 3 h 46, before withdrawing the next day. The longer the match lasts, the more it seems to herald an improbable scenario: in the first round, the Brazilian Thiago Seyboth Wild, unknown to the general public, knocked down the Russian Daniil Medvedev, world number two, after 4:14 a.m. But the palm returns to the Italian Jannik Sinner, who lost to the German Daniel Atmaier after a 5:26 opposition.
The record for the longest match in the Paris tournament has not, however, been equaled: it was established in 2004 by the French Fabrice Santoro and Arnaud Clément, who parted after 6:33 a.m.
If we put aside the 2022 edition, we have to go back to 2012 to see an average duration above 2:40. The French player Jo-Wilfried Tsonga had a lot to do with it. It took him 4:06 to defeat Stanislas Wawrinka in the round of 16, before facing Novak Djokovic – also winner of an extended match (4:18). Tsonga lost in five sets after more than four hours.
Among the male headliners of recent years, Carlos Alcaraz has impressed with his efficiency: barely 2:22 per duel this year. This did not prevent him from being beaten in the semi-finals by Novak Djokovic, experienced in extended matches (2 h 32 on average at Roland-Garros). On all of his appearances, the king of clay, Rafael Nadal, took an average of 2:27 to get rid of his opponent – except three times.
Women’s matches also stretch
Among women, the trend has also been for lengthening in the last five years. 2023 is the only year to exceed the average of 1h40 per game, on the history of games since 2016 that we have been able to study.
While the women’s tournament is regularly criticized for its too short matches – the format being in two winning sets against three for the men – some clashes in this edition nevertheless lasted. In the semi-finals, the Czech Karolina Muchova won against the Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka after 3h13 of exchanges. But the 2023 record is held by Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo and Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia. They scrapped for 3:51 to try to climb into the round of 16. The native of Sao Paulo, who emerged victorious, is a regular in long matches, with 2:31 on average this edition.
Conversely, the Polish player Iga Swiatek, already victorious at Roland-Garros in 2020 and 2022 and qualified for the final this year, spends less than 1 hour 20 minutes on average on the court – a notable efficiency compared to the tenors of the last eight editions.