A physiological profile of tennis match play

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2001 Jun;33(6):999-1005. doi: 10.1097/00005768-200106000-00020.


Purpose: The aim of this investigation was to examine physiological demands of single match play in tennis.

Methods: 20 players performed 10 matches of 50 min. Respiratory gas exchange measures (RGEM) and heart rates (HR) were measured using two portable systems. Lactate concentration was determined after each game. The average oxygen uptake (VO2) of 270 games was 29.1 +/- 5.6 mL.kg-1.min-1 (51.1 +/- 10.9% of VO2max). Average VO2 for a game ranged from 10.4 to 47.8 mL.kg-1.min-1 (20.4 and 86.8% of VO2max). Average lactate concentration (LA) was 2.07 +/- 0.9 mmol.L-1 (ranging from 0.7 to 5.2 mmol.L-1). Furthermore, we monitored the duration of rallies (DR), the effective playing time (EPT), and the stroke frequency (SF). The average values of 270 games were DR: 6.4 +/- 4.1 s, EPT: 29.3 +/- 12.1%, SF: 42.6 +/- 9.6 shots.min-1.

Results: Multiple regression revealed that the DR was the most promising variable for the determination of VO2 in match play (r = 0.54). The body surface area (BSA) and EPT were also entered into the calculation model. In games of two defensive players, VO2 was significantly higher than in games with at least one offensive player.

Conclusion: Our results suggest that energy demands of tennis matches are significantly influenced by DR. The highest average VO2 of a game of 47.8 mL.kg-1.min-1 may be regarded as a guide to assess endurance capacity required to sustain high-intensity periods of tennis matches compared with average VO2 of 29.1 mL.kg-1.min-1 for the 270 games. Our results suggest that proper conditioning is advisable especially for players who prefer to play from the baseline.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lactic Acid / blood*
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption*
  • Physical Endurance*
  • Tennis / physiology*


  • Lactic Acid