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HindustanTimes Sat,29 Nov 2014

Tennis

Agassi hails ‘golden age’ of tennis
AFP
Melbourne, January 26, 2013
First Published: 00:43 IST(26/1/2013)
Last Updated: 00:45 IST(26/1/2013)

Eight-time Grand Slam champion Andre Agassi, on Friday, said tennis was witnessing a ‘golden age’ and that Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were arguably the best the sport had seen.

Agassi, 42, joked that the only way he could have beaten Djokovic would have been to pick a fight with him.

"Let's see. I would have probably gotten in a fight with him in the locker room before the match. I might have had a chance, maybe there," Agassi said.

"It's been amazing watching standard continually sort of get better. What Federer did when he came and when I said goodbye, a lot had to do with what I knew was untouchable.

"It's just a different standard of tennis. It's different rules of engagement when guys can do what these guys can do. I don't recognise it from a standpoint of strategy, because I counted on getting somebody behind in a point and then slowly smothering them.

"But nobody's behind in a point. You never know when they're behind in a point. That would have eliminated any ability I had to move forward in the court. Means I would have had to be a different player, would've had to have a different body. It means the game has gotten a lot better."

Since Agassi retired, Federer has outstripped Pete Sampras to reach a record 17 major titles Nadal has totted up 11 and Djokovic, 25, has been the dominant player of the past two seasons.

"You know, Federer raised it; Nadal matched and raised it; Djokovic, for that intense little period of time, even raised it," he said. "It seemed like last year settled down a bit, and now all of a sudden (Andy) Murray is in equation. But when I see those top three guys, I see what history will say is the golden age of tennis. You're talking about arguably the three best guys."

Doping control

Agassi also urged tennis to do whatever it takes to curb doping, saying stronger controls would have stopped him "destroying" years of his life with recreational drugs.

He felt that his own drug use, and how he avoided a ban, may have helped tennis in pursuing more vigorous drug testing programmes."You know, for their own reasons I might have played a part in it, for them going to WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) and the governance that has no horse in the race," he said.


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