How Long is a Set in Tennis?

The answer is actually much more complicated than you might think.
Written by Mark Sampson
Last updated on

If you’re new to the sport, you may be wondering how long a set in tennis lasts. Is it just one game? Or is it more than that? In this post, we’ll break down everything you need to know.

A set in tennis consists of six games played. A player must win by two clear games to win a set, except in the case of a tie-break. The first player to score seven points wins the set in a tie-break. If the score reaches 6-6, then the player who was leading at the end of the last game serves for the duration of the tie-break.

With that in mind, let’s discuss how long a set in tennis is and some other facts about it.

Sets in tennis

A set in tennis is usually played for six games. However, if the score reaches six games in total, the set is played to eight games.

If the score then reaches eight games, the set is played to 10 games. However, if the player who is ahead in the score wins the next game, they win the set.

A player must win by two clear games to win a set. So, if the score reaches six games, the player would then need to win two more games to win the set.

How many sets of tennis are there? 

There are two or three sets in a tennis match. A set is won when a player wins six games, and his or her opponent fails to win more than five games in that set, provided that the player who wins the set has a two-game advantage over the opponent. If necessary, tie-break games are played to determine the winner of the set. 

The first player to win two successive sets wins the match. Sets are also sometimes decided by a sudden-death tiebreaker game played to six points, but this format is only used in exhibition matches such as Davis Cup or Hopman Cup matches.

In all other events, sets are played best-of-three (i.e., the first player to win two sets wins the match). 

Related: How long is a tennis match

How many games does a set consist of in tennis? 

A set consists of six games in tennis. In order to win a set, a player must win at least four games. If both players have won three games each, the score is known as a “deuce,” and the next player to win two consecutive points wins the set.

A player must win two out of three sets to win a match. Therefore, a minimum of 12 games must be played to determine a winner. 

Games are typically played to four points, but in some cases, they may be played to six. Players can also elect to play tiebreakers instead of playing out the full set.

In this case, the first player to reach seven points wins the set. Tiebreakers are typically used when time is limited or when both players are evenly matched.

Types of tennis sets and their lengths 

We will discuss three types of tennis sets in this article-advantage set, tie-break set, and pro set. Each set has its own unique characteristics and lengths, as follows: 

1. Advantage Set

An advantage set is when the score is tied at six games apiece in a best-of-twelve-game match. The first player to win two more games than their opponent wins the set.

If the score reaches six games apiece, a tiebreaker is played to determine the winner of the set. An advantage set gives players an opportunity to showcase their skills. In a tightly contested match, an advantage set can make all the difference.

2. Tiebreak Set

A tie-break set is won by whoever wins the most tie-breaks. It’s not quite as simple as that, though. In order to get to the tie-break set, each player must first win six games.

A tie-break set will be played if the score becomes 6-6. The tie-break set works like this: whoever wins seven games first wins the set. 

However, if the score becomes 6-6 in the tie-break set, then whoever wins two consecutive points wins the set. So, to win a tie-break set, a player must either win seven games or two consecutive points.

There’s no telling how long a tie-break set will last, but it could go on for quite a while.

3. Pro Set

A pro set is played until one player wins eight games by a margin of two or more games. The set lasts as long as it takes for one player to win eight games.

If both players have won seven games each, then the set is decided by a tie-break, which is won by the first player to reach seven points by a margin of two or more points. 

A tennis pro set is typically used in exhibition matches or practice sessions, as it is shorter than a traditional best-of-three set match. This can be beneficial for players who are short on time or want extra practice.

4. 2022 Rule Change 

On March 16, 2022, the Grand Slam Board changed the terms of a tie-break set. It will now be played at 6-6 in the tie-break set, and the winner will receive 10 points with a winning margin of 2 points. You can view the entire 2022 Official Grand Slam Rule Book here


Can there be seven sets in tennis? 

According to the official rules, a match can be played as the best out of three or five sets. However, nothing in the rules explicitly states that a match must consist of three or five sets. As a result, it is technically possible for a match to consist of seven sets. Of course, this would be quite rare, and it is more likely that a match would simply go to a tiebreaker if both players could win six sets each. 

What is the longest 5th set in tennis? 

The longest fifth set in tennis history happened during the 2010 Wimbledon Men’s Singles final between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut. The match took place over three days and lasted a total of 11 hours and 5 minutes. In the fifth set alone, there were 138 games played! Isner eventually won the match 70-68. 

Since then, a few other matches have come close to breaking this record, but so far no one has been able to surpass it. For a more in-depth view of the match, check out this article by The Olympics here.

All set? Now go practice!

In conclusion, we discussed three different types of tennis sets: an advantage set, a tie-break set, and a pro set. Each one has its own unique benefits and challenges.

To succeed in tennis, there are various drills you can undertake, such as strengthening drills, dribbling, and more. You can succeed on the tennis court with hard work and dedication. Now that you know how long a tennis set is, get out there and start practicing! Who knows–you might just be the next Wimbledon champion.