Effects of playing surface and gender on rally durations in singles grand slam tennis
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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The techniques and tactics implored by elite tennis players have seen substantial changes over the past 20 years (Sanchez-Munos et al., 2007). As a result, many studies have observed how rally durations vary across the different types of playing surface and produced ramifications for the athletes and their tactics. Therefore the purpose of this study was to assess the effects that both the gender of the athlete and the court surface had on rally length in three of the professional grand slam tennis tournaments. Secondly, to assess whether any differences regarding rally length within a match exist, and to highlight the extent of variation between sets. Data was collected from thirty matches (n=30), 15 men’s and 15 women’s, spread evenly across three of the tennis Grand Slam tournaments (French Open, Wimbledon & US Open). Dartfish EasyTag iPhone application (Dartfish) was used for data collection from video coverage of each individual match. The match variables analysed rally duration in seconds (s) and the number of shots that each rally contained. Results indicated that men have continued to have a greater length of rally than women on clay and hard courts, however women saw a longer rally duration when playing on the grass courts of Wimbledon, but fewer shots were played. Significant results were found when comparing both rally duration and number of shots across the three playing surfaces (p<0.01), with clay showing the longest rally duration and grass the shortest. Interrogation of the within match variables, identified that within the men’s game the rally duration as well as number of shots decreases gradually from set 1 to set 3, with an increase being seen in set 4 & 5, however caution needs to be taken with these results due to the amount of matches analysed. Women saw set 2 produce the longest rally data, with set 1 & 3 showing similar results. In conclusion, matches played on clay have continued to see the longest rally durations and most number of shots for both genders, with grass producing the shortest durations and least amount of shots. Differences were seen between genders with men producing longer rallies on clay and hard courts and women on grass, yet men were seen to play the most number of shots on all playing surfaces.
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