Male vs. female tennis

Here’s a rundown on male vs. female matchups in pro tennis:

There isn’t enough of a sample to really judge just how well we can expect a woman to do vs. a man in tennis, since most of the matches there have been have been unusual in some way. Here’s what I’m noticing though:

  1. A tennis game actually becomes pretty fair if the man gets only one serve instead of two. This makes me wonder just how much of a male’s advantage is just that insanely fast 180 mph first serve that some of them have. Once it gets to the volleying, a woman’s disadvantage decreases substantially.

  2. Although there’s been only one doubles game, it does seem that two women can cover a court as well as two men.

  3. The Williams’ sisters performance is the most recent, but also the most awful since Margaret Court vs. Bobby Riggs. Has the mens’ game just gotten a lot faster in recent years so that the gap between men and women at the highest levels has widened? Then again, Venus and Serena were much younger then, not even 18 yet.

So folks, give me a predicted score for how these matchups would turn out, same rules, both players composed and not screwing around:

  1. McEnroe vs. Serena, today

  2. Naomi Osaka against whoever the #250 male player is right now.

  3. Serena vs. Federer, today

  4. Steffi Graf vs. Andre Agassi in 1988. I’m sure they’ve had some friendly games in their time, so maybe someone has seen them play each other?

  5. Doubles, Williams sisters vs. The Bryan Twins in 2010.

Moving from CS to the Game Room, where I’m sure it was meant to be to begin with.

Oops, you are right of course.

The only slimmer of a chance for the women is the first match up.

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I wonder if a return to older materials might give the same result in slowing down the game - wooden racquets instead of carbon-fibre and catgut for the strings.

I don’t think that would make it more fair. When you serve, your first serve is when you give it everything you got. You’re just trying to get it in the service box and hope the other person simply can’t get near it. Your second serve, in the case that you missed the box, is designed to get it in the service box, every single time. When you see players practicing hitting cones, or tennis balls (as targets) or coins laid down to aim for, this is that they’re doing. It’s the reason players miss the box on their first serve more than their second serve.
When I played, the coach specifically had us practicing our ‘second serve’. Slower more controlled, get it where it needs to go every time.

If that’s the only serve you get, it would change the game.

Imagine baseball if the pitcher was only allowed one or two balls before a walk. You’d see much more controlled pitching and many more hits.

Also, FWIW, it’s not so much about how fast your serve, but where you put the ball and if the other person can return it.
I’d be curious as to what the various player’s average (first) serve speed is. I’d bet female and male aren’t that far apart…and no one is rocketing tennis balls across the court at 180mph.

  1. Serena wins, 6-4, 6-4.

  2. Mitchell Krueger is #250. He wins 6-1, 6-0. No contest. Maybe a double bagel.

  3. Federer wins 6-0, 6-0. No contest.

  4. Agassi wins 6-0, 6-0. No contest.

  5. Bryan Twins win, 6-0, 6-0. No contest.

The only room for matches 2-5 to not be bagels is if they double-fault or unforce error their ways to lose games.

#3 would be the biggest blowout of the bunch, with the possible exception of #5.

  1. Ha, I’d like to see that match. I’d put money on Serena because she’s younger and she’s still getting to the finals in majors.

  2. The speed of Osaka’s ground strokes is right up there with some of the top men; so are Madison Keys’s. So that would be hard to call.

  3. Federer. Although I get the sense that Fed likes to win, but that Serena hates to lose. That is, she has a stronger internal motivation. Still, Federer can beat almost anybody. If she went up against a man who hates to lose more than he likes to win, say, Nadal, Nadal would win.

  4. Agassi, although I bet Steffi could have persuaded him to throw the match.

  5. The Bryans.

For the most part, what Serena would run into against Federer, Graf against Agassi, and Osaka against whoever, is that shots that would be winners for them if they were playing against another woman will not be winners when hit against men. McEnroe is old enough that wouldn’t matter. Possibly. I’d bet on Serena against Isner though.

About three years ago, the “Lob & Smash” tennis site compiled a list claiming to be the ten fastest serves ever (but only one per person). Ten out of the ten were men, including Ivo Karlovich, who at six feet eleven inches with a blistering serve would be absolute hell as an opponent for any woman, and nearly any man as well.

This is precisely what one of the sisters said after the famous match.

  1. McEnroe. Easily. He is basically what Henin was to Serena, he will be able to read her easily, and she cannot outpower him.
    Pity the poor umpires though.

  2. No 250.

  3. Serena avoids a double bagel only if Fed’s Mum and wife force him to be a gentleman.

  4. Agassi.

  5. Bryan twins.

There’s no contest. The men win everything and always. The woman’s game is pretty much a different sport.
shot-speed, ground-coverage, reach, accuracy, skill level and fitness is all higher for the men. i.e. all things that you need to be a good tennis player.

I agree with #3, but I think you’re scores are wildly off base given that in the history of male vs. female matchups no male has ever won 6-0,6-0 or even 6-1,6-1. I would think that the baseline for a blowout would be around 6-2,6-2. My own guesses:

  1. Serena 7-5,6-3

  2. Krueger 6-2,6-1

  3. Federer 6-4,6-2

  4. Agassi 5-7,6-2,6-3

  5. Bryan twins 6-4,6-3

Just seen the proviso that you are talking about Serena v McEnroe* today*. In the cases where we put ludicrous age-differences and active/inactive players together it ends up being meaningless and tells us nothing about relative abilities.
I’m sure we can find an age-gap and level of decrepitude at which today’s top women can beat the men’s stars of yesteryear but ultimately what would that tell us?
We know for certain that, all things being equal, current women can’t compete with current men.

Just to emphasise one example from your list - in 1998 Karsten Braasch was ranked 203 in the men’s list.
He played the Williams sisters consecutively, winning 6-1 v Serena and 6-2 v Venus.

N.B. He felt so relaxed that he didn’t even warm up properly.

Has a top man ever really played a top woman while attempting to win? Exhibitions where you’re dicking around, the men are old, or you’re using different rules wouldn’t count.

You think Steffi Graff wins a set off Agassi in his prime? :eek:

You think she breaks him more often than he breaks her?

I think that is fanciful in the extreme. Play that matchup a hundred time and maybe she flukes a set once.

I’m not a tennis guy, I follow soccer. This type of argument comes up a lot, perhaps because the US Women’s team is much more successful than the Men’s. They women play a lot of games against boys teams because there aren’t a lot of good women’s teams to play and have a challenge.

They tend to be roughly even if the boys are ~15. 17 year olds, most of which will never play professionally, crush the women. I imagine winning a set off Agassi is roughly the same as saying a good high school boy would win a set off of him.

Look, barring the use of steroids and disregarding the very small percentage of physiological anomalies, men are bigger and stronger than women. They serve faster and return harder. Serena is the greatest women’s tennis player of all time, and she would never beat a man in the top fifty and would have very little chance of beating a man in the top 200.

I prefer to enjoy men’s and women’s tennis each in their own right for what they are. Wondering just how bad or old a guy has to be in order for a good women’s player to beat him makes no sense to me.

Oh, Mac is almost sixty, but I think he could make Serena work hard for a win.

Mac is pretty fit, plays on the senior tour. Con, he is arthritic.