How Do Tennis Players Travel?

Pro tennis players know that to be at their best, they need to play. Not only does it keep them sharp, but it allows them to earn points, which leads to a higher ranking. To accomplish those goals means a lot of travel.

How exactly do tennis players get from tournament to tournament at the highest level? It’s not cheap by any means, and some of the rising players coming through the ranks can have some tough times getting enough money to make it work.

Players at the top of tennis have all the luxuries in the world, but this article is about more than just them. This is a look at the different ways pro tennis players travel at all levels.

Private Flights

  • Used By: Players Ranked 1-50 players In The World

It might seem like a life of luxury for a lot of tennis players to travel privately to every tournament, but this is only reserved for the best of the best. They can afford it, so it makes sense for them to use this as a competitive advantage.

Think about current players like Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Serena Williams, to name a few. They aren’t necessarily flying in their own private jets, but they probably have a share of the ownership with others to make it a little more affordable.

Some rely on a sponsorship deal with a private jet company to help with the cost as well. One example is Roger Federer, who currently has a partnership deal with NetJets.

Advantages when flying privately include leaving tournament sites with little notice, and not having to worry about any slow-ups when on a flight with other people, and being recognized. Since the players flying privately are internationally known, just getting through an airport can be fairly tedious.

Private jets also are big enough to bring family members as well as the tennis team to tournaments. Federer has traveled with his wife and young children for several years now, and some of his coaches will catch a flight on the plane as well.

Flying a private plane with one or two passengers seems excessive, but it makes more sense when a dozen or more are on-board.

First-Class Flights

  • Used By: Players ranked: 51-200 In The World

Tennis players who have had a pretty good career so far and steadily make great money are likely going to opt for first-class tickets. It provides quite a bit more comfort than a standard ticket, but is much more cost-effective than splurging for a private flight.

First-class offers a decent amount of privacy, which helps tennis players focus as much as possible when they are making quick trips to another tournament.

Some of the more successful players will put their entire team in first-class when they are traveling. Others might travel in first class, but everyone else is flying economy.

Tennis players are generally taller than the average person, so that extra space is also great for the body. Having to cram into an economy seat while being 6’4” or taller can have lasting effects that carry over to the tennis court.

Economy Tickets

  • Used By: Players Ranked 200+

Even successful players will notice that the cost of flights adds up over the year. Instead of spending a lot of earnings on plane tickets, traveling in economy class is a way to save. The amount of space and comfort included with the seat might not be much, but some players have no other choice.

Any player on the ATP or WTA tour right outside of the top 200 does not make a ton of money in earnings every single year. When factoring in all the other expenses, it’s just not feasible to fly first class everywhere.

They might pick and choose the first-class ticket once in a while, but they will take the majority of trips in the economy.

If there is any good news with economy flights, it is that they are generally on the shorter side. Tournaments are usually put together in the same geographic areas, making an hour or two flight not the worst thing in the world.

Train Tickets

  • Used By: Players Ranked 200+ In The World (Only For Short Trips)

The only time tennis players use a train to get from one tournament to the next is if they are in Europe. Not only is the train system much better in Europe than in any other part of the world, but it could be relaxing for those who don’t enjoy flying all the time.

Some of the trips end up being about the same amount of time as a flight, since there is less preparation to get on a train.

Some trains are spacious enough that people can opt for a bed if they need some time to rest. It’s a way to sneak in some sleep while also traveling to the next destination. If riding on a train during the middle of the day, it might make sense to just take in the scenery and relax that way.

What Do Players Do For On-Site Transportation?

Once a player arrives at a tournament, they still need to get around during that week. The hotel can be a little bit of a distance away from the tournament, and players might want to see a few things while they are there.

In most professional tournaments, a car sponsor is helping with transportation. They get to advertise that they are the official car provider for the tournament, and the players get free transportation.

Occasionally, top players will use their own method of transportation to get to a tournament if they wish. There are also those occasional instances where players have a home near the tournaments, and they will find an alternative way to get there as well.

Outside of that, players must find their own method of transportation. In the modern game, they tend to use a ride-sharing service or taxi to get around. Renting a car is too much of a hassle, and the majority of players might not be licensed to drive in that particular country anyway.

How Often Do Tennis Players Travel Per Year?

Assuming players take 2 flights for each tournament they play, here’s how many flights the top-ranked players on the ATP Tour take each year:

PlayerFlights (Per Year)
Novak Djokovic28 Flights
Daniil Medvedev46 Flights
Alexander Zverev46 Flights
Stefanos Tsitsipas52 Flights
Andrey Rublev56 Flights
Rafael Nadal22 Flights
Matteo Berrettini42 Flights
Casper Ruud70 Flights
Hubert Hurkacz64 Flights
Jannik Sinner84 Flights

The amount of travel for a tennis player can vary depending on their current ranking. For example, top players who only play ATP events and Grand Slams might not travel as much, but they go far for each one.

Up-and-comers playing Challengers and ITF Futures might go from city to city more often, but tournaments are usually pretty close together to make travel not quite as difficult.

On the low end, players might fill their schedule with 20 tournaments per year. On the high end, they can play around 40, meaning that there are only 12 weeks off throughout the year. That’s a lot of travel each week, even if tournaments are close together at times.

Who Pays For The Travel?

With tennis being an individual sport, the athlete is responsible for taking care of travel costs more often than not.

Occasionally, a sponsor will help cover the cost for players if they are not making a lot of money as a professional just yet.

There are also times when a country will help to pay for these costs for a younger player coming up through the ranks.

Why Traveling Matters So Much In Tennis

As more studies look into the impact travel has on a player’s physical and mental health, most are looking for ways to stay safe and well-rested when going from tournament to tournament.

It can be exhausting crossing time zones and playing so often, but it’s part of the profession.

Inevitably, the top players are always going to have more resources to have a leg up on the competition, but the tennis schedule helps with scheduling enough to make it tolerable.

Fred Simonsson

I'm Fred, the guy behind TennisPredict. Apart from writing here, I play tennis on a semi-professional level and coach upcoming talents.

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