Agassi: ‘This is a golden age in ten­nis’

Weekend Witness - - Sport -

MEL­BOURNE — Eight-time grand slam-win­ner An­dre Agassi yes­ter­day 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) speak­ing on his first visit to the Aus­tralian Open since he re­tired in 2006, joked that the only way he could have beaten Djokovic, the world num­ber one, 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, adding that he was amazed at how stan­dards had soared.

“It’s been amaz­ing watch­ing the stan­dard con­tin­u­ally sort of get bet­ter. You won­der how it’s pos­si­ble, you know, to con­tinue at that sort of rate.

“I mean, 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, in­clud­ing a ca­reer grand slam. Nadal has tot­ted up 11 and Djokovic (25) has been the dom­i­nant player of the past two sea­sons.

“You know, Fed raised it; Nadal matched and raised it; Djokovic, for that in­tense lit­tle pe­riod of time, even raised it,” Agassi said.

“It seemed like last year set­tled down a bit, and now all of a sud­den [Andy] Mur­ray is in the equa­tion of where is he go­ing to go.

“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.

“Djokovic will still need some dis­tance to cover, but best of all time, if you’re hav­ing that dis­cus­sion in the same gen­er­a­tion, it’s re­mark­able.” — Sapa-AFP.

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