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Discussion Starter #1
I know early in their careers the distance stats may not have been used as commonly, but does anyone know the distance run by Nadal/Federer for a whole year?

Even if we only have one year's worth of distance stats, we can estimate what their career mileage is.

It would be interesting to see if Nadal has run more than Federer despite Nadal being almost 5 years younger etc.

 

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I know early in their careers the distance stats may not have been used as commonly, but does anyone know the distance run by Nadal/Federer for a whole year?

Even if we only have one year's worth of distance stats, we can estimate what their career mileage is.

It would be interesting to see if Nadal has run more than Federer despite Nadal being almost 5 years younger etc.

I'd bet my house that Rafa has run more. Rogie doesn't really run in his service games, just stand there and serves.
 

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The thing about tennis is that it's not really about distance but mainly about explosiveness in movement.

Play a tennis match in which you run 8 km and it will be very taxing for the body. Then run in one hour and it won't be nearly as bad. Why? Because playing tennis you're constantly stopping, sprinting for short distances, etc. That's why many players argue that S&V is actually more taxing on the body on the long run than playing from the backcourt.

Plus, you've got to factor in the time as well. Running 8 km in a 3 hour tennis match is different than running the same distance in a 1.5 hour tennis match. Nadal matches in particular tend to last longer than Federer's, which means RAFA has more time to recover during the match.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
The thing about tennis is that it's not really about distance but mainly about explosiveness in movement.

Play a tennis match in which you run 8 km and it will be very taxing for the body. Then run in one hour and it won't be nearly as bad. Why? Because playing tennis you're constantly stopping, sprinting for short distances, etc. That's why many players argue that S&V is actually more taxing on the body on the long run than playing from the backcourt.

Plus, you've got to factor in the time as well. Running 8 km in a 3 hour tennis match is different than running the same distance in a 1.5 hour tennis match. Nadal matches in particular tend to last longer than Federer's, which means RAFA has more time to recover during the match.
Yeah I definitely wouldn't use distance run to determine physical exertion.
I'm just interested in the stat, not drawing conclusions from it.
 

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It would be interesting to see if Nadal has run more than Federer despite Nadal being almost 5 years younger etc.
In addition to having played many more matches, Federer also plays 10.78 more points per match than Nadal does. This is mostly down to Nadal being absolutely ruthless on clay (138 points per match, vs 150 on all surfaces), and Federer's best surface being one which both takes more points on average due to a server's advantage (178 points per match on grass, vs 161 on all surfaces).

All of this added up, and Nadal has played 162,411 points on the ATP World Tour, to Federer's 220,765, so it would have to be a pretty colossal differential to overcome that difference (turns out it is: more on that later). Astonishingly, despite being almost 60 thousand points played behind Federer, Nadal still sits third in the all-time leaderboard for that stat, just behind one David Ferrer (165,123). Spaniards absolutely dominate this stat, with Lopez, Verdasco, Robredo, and Carlos Moya all being inside the top 10.

But back to the original question: how far does this add up to? Well, we don't have much data to work with, but we do have some. During the 2015 Australian Open, IBM published some distance-per-point data for four players, conveniently including the #2, #3, and #4 players of all time by total points played. This reveals that Nadal ran an average of 12 metres per point. Obviously you wouldn't expect this to be consistent across all surfaces and across his entire career, but we've got to work with what we've got, so if we very naively assume this to be representative of an overall career average, Nadal would have run 1,948.9km. Whether or not this is more than Federer is uncertain, but we know that it's almost definitely not #1: in addition to having played a few thousand additional points, David Ferrer runs almost 2 metres more for every single point, coming out to some 2,311.7km.

Again, these numbers are absolutely not accurate. Clay court matches would drastically inflate them, especially for players like Nadal and Ferrer who play a higher percentage of their career on clay compared to a Federer, or even more egregiously, an Isner. Indeed, despite having played tens of thousands more points than anyone else on tour, Federer isn't even in the top 20 for points played on clay. And if you thought that Spaniards dominated the points played statistic earlier, have a look at this scarcely believable top 10 on clay.

That said, they should be useful for a relative comparison between players. While it would be foolish to suggest "Nadal has run less than 2Mm" as a fact, it seems like a pretty safe assumption that Nadal has run less than Ferrer. And, additionally, it seems like a safe assumption that he's run more than Federer. Even ignoring the clay impact, we saw in the IBM data from above that Djokovic runs barely half as much per point as Nadal does. We also know, from other sources (largely the US Open), that Federer runs significantly less than Djokovic does. While the data collection is done with different methods and on different surfaces, and therefore not directly comparable (e.g., we can't just plug in Federer's distance per point numbers from another source and assume that it's compatible), it seems like a fairly safe bet that Federer has run less than Nadal over his career, despite having played far more.
 

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No idea about distance run per year, but I saw one article stating that Rafa had run more than Djok e.g., with an explanation given that the latter stays closer to the baseline. Don't recall from what year that was though. Following that line of thought, Fed likely runs even less since he's typically even further up the court.

Here's some illustration based on hawk-eye data of the movement of each player (from 3:30 onwards):

 
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