# What is the ideal height of a tennis player?

#### Slightly D1

##### Professional
5'10-6'2 is ideal. Although there have been taller players who have had success (especially with the serve angles), it generally can be pretty limiting on their court movement and quickness. Any shorter and some players might face challenges on their serves and with constant "high" bounces.

#### Mugu

##### Rookie
7'6 might be the perfect height, 100 aces every match
unfortunately, you still need to return serve. just ask Isner.

#### Wander

##### Hall of Fame
All of these are within 1 cm.

here's the exact math
6'1 = 185.42
6'2 = 187.96
6'3 = 190.5
6'6 = 198.12

The problem is that the feet and inches themselves are typically rounded up to the closest inch (or, more accurately, to the next one up because people prefer to round their height up rather than down). So someone who is 6 feet and 2.4 inches tall, will quite possibly claim to be 6'3, then that gets converted to 190.5 in centimetres and rounded up to 191cm. Now we have someone who is actually 189cm tall listed as 191cm. Perhaps not all that significant, but this type of thing is very typical.

Exactly. We tennis fans watch Isner and Karlovic and think, "that's the way tall athletes move" which is completely false. Kevin Durant is 6'9. Look that guy up. If you put him on a tennis court, he would move better than basically everyone on the tour. Same with Lebron James who is 6'8. Basketball movement is similar to tennis movement in that you need a quick first step. Top basketball players have that in spades. They would move better than anyone on the ATP while also having the height advantages of Isner. They'd probably dominate. It makes sense though. Federer is making about 8 million a year from playing tennis (he obviously makes more for endorsements). Durant made 25 million last year and is slated to make > 26 million this year.

Absolute hogwash. like Red Rick said, the best basketball players look like godlike movers in the midst of other lumberers. Put them on a football (soccer) field, and they would look slow, just like the other really tall soccer players. Those guys are obviously not so tall that they couldn't be great tennis players if their talent transferred to racket skills, but there is no reason to expect them to dominate.

#### EloQuent

##### Legend
The problem is that the feet and inches themselves are typically rounded up to the closest inch (or, more accurately, to the next one up because people prefer to round their height up rather than down). So someone who is 6 feet and 2.4 inches tall, will quite possibly claim to be 6'3, then that gets converted to 190.5 in centimetres and rounded up to 191cm. Now we have someone who is actually 189cm tall listed as 191cm. Perhaps not all that significant, but this type of thing is very typical
gotcha. yes, very true. also some are listed at at least a full inch taller than they actually are

D

#### Deleted member 307496

##### Guest

His real height is the stuff of legend.

#### kailash

##### Hall of Fame
Ideal height, ideal torso & ideal game!

#### vex

##### Legend
Right now I'd say its 6'3-6'4.

D

#### Deleted member 3771

##### Guest
Around 6'6"-6'8" could become the ideal height within a few years. 6'5" is the new 6'1".

#### vive le beau jeu !

##### Talk Tennis Guru
(sampras+federer)/2 = 1.85 m

#### Shaolin

##### G.O.A.T.
Right now I'd say its 6'3-6'4.

''Right now''?

6'1 has won the last 5 slams in a row and will probably win 2/3 of the ones this year.

D

#### Deleted member 716271

##### Guest
The problem is that the feet and inches themselves are typically rounded up to the closest inch (or, more accurately, to the next one up because people prefer to round their height up rather than down). So someone who is 6 feet and 2.4 inches tall, will quite possibly claim to be 6'3, then that gets converted to 190.5 in centimetres and rounded up to 191cm. Now we have someone who is actually 189cm tall listed as 191cm. Perhaps not all that significant, but this type of thing is very typical.

Absolute hogwash. like Red Rick said, the best basketball players look like godlike movers in the midst of other lumberers. Put them on a football (soccer) field, and they would look slow, just like the other really tall soccer players. Those guys are obviously not so tall that they couldn't be great tennis players if their talent transferred to racket skills, but there is no reason to expect them to dominate.

Agreed if any NBA players could have dominated at tennis it would likely be the Steph Currys, Russell Westbrooks and Kyrie Irvings.

D

#### Deleted member 716271

##### Guest
are the "tall guys" all the full 6'5-6'6 they are labeled as?

I think most of them are close maybe a half inch less in some cases. Safin actually looked taller than 6 4.

#### van_Loederen

##### Professional
Look at pictures of him and Djoko, Murray isnt any higher. And look at their shoulders, Andy's hair tend to make him a bit higher than Djokers playmobil haircut .

ha!

what now, Jonas?

#### EloQuent

##### Legend

ha!

what now, Jonas?
this is just a weird picture all around. Kei looks nearly 6', Stan is not that short. I think they aren't standing in a straight row, some closer to the camera

D

#### Deleted member 716271

##### Guest
Murray is taller than Djokovic but just by a fraction of an inch, like 1 cm imo

#### metsman

##### G.O.A.T.
Agreed if any NBA players could have dominated at tennis it would likely be the Steph Currys, Russell Westbrooks and Kyrie Irvings.
I'd still rather have LeBron. He's just a far superior physical specimen to either Kyrie or Steph and vs Russ he doesn't give up that much mobility (and jumps higher) while having a massive size advantage. Peak LeBron is basically faster than any guard besides the absolute speedsters (Wall, pre-ACL Rose, Westbrook) and he jumps quite a bit higher than all 3 so he is probably more explosive, just has much more mass to move so a slightly slower first step. I remember we discussed this before. For me, a guy like Safin showed that it's not impossible or a 6'5" guy to play at an ATG level by sacrificing a little movement compared to the elite guys but being able to bring more heat. Same for a guy like Delpo to a lesser extent who is probably only about 1-1.5 inches shorter than LeBron. LeBron if he kept his high school physique where he was a lean 240-245 would be an absolute terror physically, even in tennis.

Obviously there are so many tennis specific physical attributes that aren't apparent to the eye that we have no way of knowing if these guys have it even if we assume they would pick up the technique and have the necessary hand eye (which is far from a given). Mostly the flexibility in the wrist/forearms to generate elite racket head speed.

#### van_Loederen

##### Professional
this is just a weird picture all around. Kei looks nearly 6', Stan is not that short. I think they aren't standing in a straight row, some closer to the camera

look at their feet. they are pretty much in a row, except for Nishikori,
whereas in Jonas' picture you can't see the feet at all, but you see that Djokovic stands slightly in front.

#### EloQuent

##### Legend
look at their feet. they are pretty much in a row, except for Nishikori,
whereas in Jonas' picture you can't see the feet at all, but you see that Djokovic stands slightly in front.

Your gonna tell me that Kei is only half a head shorter than Raonic?

Murray looks closer in that picture. If you google image it and browse around, it looks like Murray is about half an inch taller than Djokovic.

#### Atennisone

##### Hall of Fame
Some sports like basketball and football have a clear advantage to bigger and taller athletes but tennis isn't a contact or near contact sport. Taller players are usually stronger servers but have other weaknesses.

Obviously we will be influenced by the actual top players and neither of Federer or Nadal stand out for their height, are both 6'1". But would they be even better with another couple inches?

If you were designing the perfect tennis player in a laboratory, how tall would he be?

185 cm. Nadal, Federer, Thiem is all about 185 cm. That height makes you capable of having a great serve, having a great speed, so yeah 185cm I would say.

#### Slicerman

##### Professional
''Right now''?

6'1 has won the last 5 slams in a row and will probably win 2/3 of the ones this year.

#### David Le

##### Hall of Fame
this is just a weird picture all around. Kei looks nearly 6', Stan is not that short. I think they aren't standing in a straight row, some closer to the camera
Kei is like 5’10 but 5’11 with shoes and maybe insoles. I read that Agassi is like 5’10 3/4 with shoes would be 5’11. Graf looks almost his height when standing next to each other. She’s like at 5’9 with or without shoes I can’t tell.

#### manley0702

##### Rookie
Absolute hogwash. like Red Rick said, the best basketball players look like godlike movers in the midst of other lumberers. Put them on a football (soccer) field, and they would look slow, just like the other really tall soccer players. Those guys are obviously not so tall that they couldn't be great tennis players if their talent transferred to racket skills, but there is no reason to expect them to dominate.

Completely disagree. Kevin Durant doesn't look fast compared to "other lumberers". He looks fast compared to guys who are 6'3 or 6'4 despite himself being 6'11.

#### metsman

##### G.O.A.T.
Completely disagree. Kevin Durant doesn't look fast compared to "other lumberers". He looks fast compared to guys who are 6'3 or 6'4 despite himself being 6'11.
You're thinking of LeBron who at his peak was arguably one of the 3 fastest players in the league despite being 260+. There's a clip on youtube of him absolutely smoking Rondo in a sprint down the floor despite having to dribble and starting a few feet behind and that was in Miami, when he was at his heaviest. KD is fast compared to other people of his height(still not the quickest due to Giannis), he's fairly average compared to other small forwards much less quicker guards. KD would move better than Isner or Karlovic playing tennis but his movement would still be a weakness and probably preclude him from truly being an elite player.

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#### abmk

##### Bionic Poster
5'11 to 6'2" covers all the ATGs who played majority of their careers in the open era , no ?

Connors, Borg, Mac, Lendl, Wilander, Becker, Edberg, Agassi, Sampras, Federer, Nadal, Djokovic.

#### EloQuent

##### Legend
5'11 to 6'2" covers all the ATGs who played majority of their careers in the open era , no ?

Connors, Borg, Mac, Lendl, Wilander, Becker, Edberg, Agassi, Sampras, Federer, Nadal, Djokovic.
Connors is listed at 5'10, Becker 6'3. But just because they were in this range does it mean that they had to be?

#### abmk

##### Bionic Poster
Connors is listed at 5'10, Becker 6'3. But just because they were in this range does it mean that they had to be?

oh yeah, Becker was 6'3".
Was Connors was 5'10" or 5'11" ?

#### abmk

##### Bionic Poster

yeah, I saw that. I was under the impression Borg and Connors were of the same height till now.
Will take it as 5'10" for now.

D

#### Deleted member 716271

##### Guest
deducing that the currently ideal height for tennis is 185 (6'1") based on 2–3 active players or (worse yet) past players is way too simplistic, and it's too thin a basis to make generalizations from.

Across tour, height is positively associated with winning % also well past 6'1". Furthermore, players 6'4" and up are far over-represented in, say, the top 100 compared to how comparatively rare they are in the population at large. So it's obvious that it carries some special advantage even compared to the 6'1" crew, at least up to a certain point. As the guy above said, a huge confounder here is the fact that there are far far more 6'1" men in the world than 6'6" guys, so a Federer-type talent is also therefore far more likely to come along in the smaller package. There are even more guys standing 5'9"–5'10", and hence statistically there should be an abundance of talent in that range, but at that point the lack of height clearly becomes a big enough handicap that talent can't make up for it.

When the right 6'4+ guy imminently comes along, we'll change our tune.

It could be though that being very tall helps one to be very good but is a handicap in being an all time great due to balance of game. Like a gimmick that aids becoming a pro (over 7 2 for basketball) but is unlikely to pan out as an all time GOAT.

Of course as you said extreme height is still positively correlated with success relative to its rarity and it is so rare that it is hard to tease out what exactly is going on.

#### Sambuccashake

##### Hall of Fame
185 cm. Nadal, Federer, Thiem is all about 185 cm. That height makes you capable of having a great serve, having a great speed, so yeah 185cm I would say.
185,5 to fit the modern game.

No I agree.

#### DMP

##### Professional
Some numbers you may find interesting….

The heights of Wimbledon finalists over 50 years:

2014 Federer (1.85) v Djokovic (1.88) Average 1.865
2004 Federer (1.85) v Roddick (1.88) Average 1.865
1994 Sampras (1.85) v Ivanisevic (1.93). Average 1.89
1984 McEnroe (1.80) v Connors (1.77). Average 1.785
1974 Connors (1.77) v Rosewall (1.70). Average 1.735
1964 Emerson (1.83) v Stolle (1.90). Average 1.865

The height of the finalists in 2014 was the same as it was 50 years earlier, and not as high as 1994.

The finalists in 2017 were Federer and Cilic. Cilic is tall, at 1.98m. So average height of the finalists was 1.915m.

More stats..

The average height of the top 4 seeds (or top 4 ranked players) at any time should indicate what height is most successful at that time. Since the ATP rankings are only valid relatively recently it is better to take the top 4 seeds for historical data.

1965 Average height of top 4 seeds at Wimbledon = 1.90m
2013 Average height of top 4 seeds at Wimbledon= 1.85m
2017 Average height of the top 4 seeds at Wimbledon= 1.87m

So he average height of the top 4 seeds in 2017 was less than in 1965, and even with an exceptionally tall finalist like Cilic the average height of the finalists was only a bit taller (15mm or ¾ inch) than the top 4 seeds in 1965, over 50 years ago (check out the seeds and their height in Wikipedia).

Were they the tallest ever? Well, the 1991 Wimbledon final was between Becker (1.90m) and Stich (1.93m), average height 1.915m. The same as the 2017 final.

So the next time anyone says that tennis has moved into an era where taller players dominate, remember to treat that statement with a whole load of scepticism. The world may be getting taller, but the ideal height for a champion has hardly changed for 50 years and doesn't show any sign of changing in a big way. Big guys may have the occasional win (e.g. Smith, Safin, Del Potro) but they don't have long term robustness.

Some more stuff…

In 1953 Jack Kramer toured with Frank Sedgman and they earned \$304,000 between them

https://www.si.com/vault/1958/02/24/571808/the-small-green-empire-of-jack-kramer

Meanwhile the salaries for other sports were a fraction of what they are now

https://www.quora.com/What-were-salaries-like-for-professional-athletes-back-in-the-old-days

https://www.firmex.com/thedealroom/what-nba-salaries-would-these-superstar-players-make-today

In football salaries were still capped, and someone like Usain Bolt would have run as a complete amateur.

In Lew Hoads first year as a professional in 1958 "Hoad's contract guaranteed \$125,000 over two years. In his first 12 months as a pro, Hoad earned \$200,000. Hoad and Gonzales became the top two highest paid athletes on the planet."

So tennis was a much more attractive sport for someone athletic wanting to make a living, much more attractive relatively than it is now.

While the world population has grown significantly, so has the money in other sports than tennis, especially those that fill TV time. As a result they have become much better at creaming off athletic talent into academies, which then spit many of them out as ‘failures’ in their late teens when it is much too late to take up a technical sport like tennis. However the consolation is that you can make a much better living as even a moderate player in these popular sports than all but a very few tennis players.

Conclusion: The average height of the most successful tennis players has hardly changed over many, many decades. There have been occasional greats who are shorter and taller than the optimum, but the long run average has stayed virtually constant. Tall players win a few, but don’t have long term success. This could be due to physical size of a tennis court, which places a premium on burst of movement, or it could be due to the fact that the increasing number of good tall movers are simple being creamed off into other sports, where improvements in the condition of the surface they move on (better grass for outdoor, synthetic instead of cinders for sprinting) mean they can move much easier than in the past.

The best athlete in the world today is almost certainly not Federer or Nadal or Djokovic, but is probably playing in one of the high-earning popular sports where they were scouted at an early age. They probably don’t stand out because they are surrounded by other great athletes playing that sport, who were also scouted early.

my height

#### Gary Duane

##### G.O.A.T.
Apparently. It's only going to get worse in coming years.

Must have totally mangled a quote!

#### manley0702

##### Rookie
You're thinking of LeBron who at his peak was arguably one of the 3 fastest players in the league despite being 260+. There's a clip on youtube of him absolutely smoking Rondo in a sprint down the floor despite having to dribble and starting a few feet behind and that was in Miami, when he was at his heaviest. KD is fast compared to other people of his height(still not the quickest due to Giannis), he's fairly average compared to other small forwards much less quicker guards. KD would move better than Isner or Karlovic playing tennis but his movement would still be a weakness and probably preclude him from truly being an elite player.

I've watched Lebron and Durant since before each became a pro. I know which one is which. I used Durant in the example because he's taller than Lebron and even taller than Isner. Lebron is certainly faster than Durant though both players could win big titles in tennis.

#### vex

##### Legend
''Right now''?

6'1 has won the last 5 slams in a row and will probably win 2/3 of the ones this year.
Yeah but those guys are all 30+. Bigger, faster, stronger. I’m saying that IF magically the next Fed/Djoker appeared at age 20-22 he’d want to be ~6’4. The athleticism of some proportioned 6’4 elite athletes is crazy in other sports. Heck, LeBron at 6’9... but he’s super human

The problem is the best athletes aren’t getting into tennis these days

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