The aim of this study was to develop an exercise protocol to simulate tennis matchplay on a 'category 2' surface. Match analyses were used to form the basis for the design of the protocol. The protocol involved playing against a tennis ball serving machine. Part A of the protocol comprised 92 min 46 s of simulated tennis matchplay; Part B consisted of continuous hitting to the point of 'volitional fatigue' or when the required hitting frequency for two consecutive ball feeds could no longer be maintained. Ten elite tennis players (5 males, 5 females) volunteered to participate in the study, which was performed on an indoor tennis court (Matchplay, En-Tout-Cas). Their age, body mass and estimated maximal oxygen uptake were as follows: males, 21.7 +/- 1.0 years, 73.6 +/- 2.6 kg and 58.0 +/- 1.7 ml x kg(-1) x min(-1), respectively; females, 21.9 +/- 1.3 years, 62.3 +/- 2.0 kg and 42.2 +/- 0.7 ml x kg x min(-1), respectively (mean +/- sx). Heart rate, change in body mass and time to volitional fatigue were monitored. The heart rate responses of the participants to the simulated matchplay (range: 140-157 beats x min(-1), 73-81% peak heart rate) were consistent with the results of previous studies, for 'actual' matchplay. This protocol was successful in simulating similar physiological responses in Part A to 'actual' matchplay on a 'category 2' surface, in a controlled environment; it was also a sensitive evaluation tool of skilled performance in Part B. The current protocol may be used as a baseline protocol for studying the influence of, for example, training and dietary intervention on performance.