Many people love the fact that there is no such thing as a clock in the sport of tennis. Theoretically, a tennis match could last hours and hours, or it could be over in under an hour.
For a match to end quickly, it usually means it is a one-sided affair. These are seven of the shortest tennis matches ever that are officially documented by time. There might be some shorter matches from the earlier days of tennis, but official time was not always tracked properly.
1. Jack Harper – J. Sandiford, Surrey Open (1946)
- 18 Minutes
- Jack Harper Won: 6-0, 6-0
Way back in 1946, Jack Harper was able to win the best-of-three match in 18 minutes. He lost just one point to J. Sandiford along the way, and it was never a contest. Harper was certainly no slouch, as he made it to the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, and the 4th round at Wimbledon. However, on that day, it was total domination from the very beginning.
J. Sandiford did not win a game, nor was he ever really in any of them. There were a ton of short points during the entire match, and the fast pace of play for both players helped as well.
They might not have known they were on pace to set a record that would still stand today, but it was one of the most lopsided affairs ever.
2. Margaret Court – Darlene Hard, Eastern Grass Court Championships (1963)
- 24 Minutes
- Margaret Court Won: 6-1, 6-1
The shortest documented women’s match in the history of high-level tennis came in 1963, when Margaret Court beat Darlene Hard 6-1, 6-1.
Margaret Court is one of the greatest champions in women’s tennis history, so losing to a player like that is certainly not the worst thing in the world. However, it only took 24 minutes to get through the two sets, even with Hard winning two games.
It was a mismatch on paper from the very beginning, and both players had a fast enough pace to their play to get through everything quickly. Court was able to have a few blowout victories in her career, but this was the most lopsided of them all when looking at her entire body of work.
3. Helen Wills – Joan Fry, Wightman Cup (1927)
- 24 Minutes
- Helen Wills Won: 6-2, 6-0
Former #1 player in the world Helen Willis was at the peak of her powers in 1927. She won both Wimbledon and the US Open that year, and she reached #1 in the world for the first time. All that means it was a bad time for anyone to match up with her, and Joan Fry received one of the fastest losses in tennis history.
In just 24 minutes, Wills cruised to a victory to help the United States ultimately win 5-2 in the Wightman Cup. It was always a bad matchup for Fry, but this match went particularly poorly. Fry did find a way to win a couple of games in the first set, but the second set was over in about 10 minutes.
4. Francisco Clavet – Jiang Shan, Heineken Open (2001)
- 25 Minutes
- Francisco Clavet Won: 6-0, 6-0
If the name of the loser sounds familiar, he is the husband of Li Na. When he was still playing professional tennis, he suffered a pretty devastating loss in just 25 minutes to Francisco Clavet.
The straightforward beatdown finished 6-0, 6-0. It was never a competitive matchup, as Clavet played some of the most dominating tennis of his career.
Losing on home soil is never fun, as Shan thought he had a chance to make a mini run at he event in Shanghai. Even though he was the underdog, nothing was working for him shot wise, and it led to the fast loss.
5. Jarkko Nieminen – Bernard Tomic, Miami Masters (2014)
- 28 Minutes
- Jarkko Nieminen Won: 6-0, 6-1
Tomic has made history for the wrong reasons in his career. He won just one game in the 28 minutes it took for Jarkko Nieminen to come out victorious.
Tomic was not fined for his effort in this match, but several people wondered if he was mailing it in like he was when he lost in under an hour to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at Wimlbedon. It does not help his case that he plays at a very fast pace, so even when he wins, points go by quickly.
6. Steffi Graf – Natasha Zvereva, French Open (1988)
- 34 Minutes
- Steffi Graf Won: 6-0, 6-0
By 1988, Steffi Graf was already considered one of the greats in the game. She was showing her full level of dominance in the final, as she beat Natasha Zvereva in just 34 minutes of action. It was the first time ever that a Grand Slam singles final ended 6-0, 6-0, and it never seemed like a fair fight throughout the entire match.
Zvereva was a bit of a surprise finalist that year, and maybe the nerves got to her a bit. Still, the future Hall of Famer and doubles specialist never figured out how to get on track. Graf showed the poise of a champion, and made very quick work of her opponent overall.
7. William Renshaw – John Hartley, Wimbledon Championships Final (1881)
- 36 Minutes
- William Renshaw Won: 6-0, 6-1, 6-1
It is hard to believe that the finals of a major tennis tournament would end so quickly. However, the pace of play was faster in the 1800s, and when one player is dominating over the other, things can unravel in a hurry.
Renshaw won Wimbledon seven times in his career, so this is not a case of a player getting lucky. However, this was his first-ever title at the All-England Club, so no one really knew his dominant level of play.
In fact, the winner of the two Wimbledon titles before this lopsided match was Harley. Renshaw quickly turned the matchup, and the trajectory of careers, around in a heartbeat.
For the longest matches of all time, check out this post.