HTLS 2020: The day I played Federer, I realised I was playing the greatest player of all time, says Andre Agassi
Winner of eight Grand Slams, Andre Agassi has called superstar Roger Federer the ‘greatest player of all time’. In a conversation with veteran sports journalist Ayaz Memon on Day 5 of the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit, Agassi explained how facing Federer for the first time convinced him that the Swiss player was on the path to greatness.
They first met in only the third tournament of Federer’s career - the 1998 Swiss Indoors - with Agassi prevailing over the then 17-year-old. Agassi went on to beat Federer at the 2001 US Open and the finals of the Miami Open in 2002, before losing the next eight in a row.
“The day I played Federer, that was the day I realised I was playing the greatest player of all time,” Agassi, joined by 22-time Grand Slam winner Steffi Graf, said while speaking via video conference at HTLS 2020.
Federer, along with Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic make for the ‘Big 3’ in modern day tennis, with the three superstars combining to win 57 singles Grand Slam titles. Agassi, who has squared off against all three, candidly revealed he feels thankful to not have faced Nadal at the top of his game, and called Djokovic a complete all-court player.
“I never got to face Nadal’s best tennis and I’m thankful for that. Novak is someone who can play on any surface and be capable to win. And that is a big thing to say. Overall, tennis is the winner,” the former World No. 1 added.
Agassi reflected on the domination of the three mega stars of tennis, highlighting that although it’s incredible knowing what Djokovic, Nadal and Federer have achieved in their respective careers, the youngsters today are tremendously capable. So much, that the eight-time Grand Slam winner feels lucky to not be competing in today’s era.
“[I] feel lucky to not be playing in today’s era. Three players are at the top of their game today, but one player who always had its say is ‘Father Time’. These younger guys are knocking on the door – Zverev, Tsitsipas, Thiem. These guys are not only young but believe they can win. It makes me believe that there will be a change in guard,” Agassi said.