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Rediff.com  » Sports » Roger better than Pete: Agassi

Roger better than Pete: Agassi

September 12, 2005 11:11 IST
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Andre Agassi, who has crossed swords with some of the greatest names of modern tennis, said he considers Roger Federer the best he has ever played.

Agassi offered his appraisal after the world number one Swiss surged to his second successive US Open title by beating him 6-3, 2-6, 7-6, 6-1 in the men's final on Sunday.

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"He's the best I've ever played against," said 35-year-old Agassi, who has battled against the likes of Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl and Pete Sampras, who won an all-time best 14 grand slam singles titles.

"I've played a lot of them over the years, but there's a safety zone, there's a place to get to, there's something to focus on, there's a way," he said about attacking those other esteemed rivals.

Federer, said the sagely Agassi, has no weaknesses and a seemingly endless variety of options to swing a match in his favor.

"Anything you try to do, he potentially has an answer for, and it's just a function of when he starts pulling the triggers necessary to get you to change to that decision.

"He plays the game in a very special way. I haven't seen it before."

Agassi, the oldest Grand Slam finalist since Australian Ken Rosewall at age 39 at the 1974 US Open, was lifted by the cheers of most of the 23,000 fans packed into Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Showing supreme fitness for an aging veteran who had labored through three five-set matches to reach the finals, Agassi raced from corner to corner, ripped sizzling service returns and brushed lines with his groundstrokes to make it a match before being overrun by the Swiss.

Even Sampras, Agassi's great rival through most of his career, was easier to play, said the American, an eight-times grand slam champion.

"Pete was great, I mean, no question. But there was a place to get to with Pete. You knew what you had to do. If you do it, it could be on your terms. There's no such place like that with Roger.

"I think he's the best I've played against. He does things that others just can't do," said Agassi, playing in his 20th consecutive US Open.

Agassi would not go so far as to predict Federer, who now has six grand slam titles, would surpass Sampras's record of 14 Grand Slam crowns.

"I think the accomplishment of winning that many Slams requires a number of things, including a little bit of luck to make sure you're healthy, and that nothing goes wrong," he said.

Agassi marveled at Federer's record of winning his last 23 tournament finals. "I'd be hard-pressed to think of anybody that's ever done that."

Asked if Federer, who improved his record this year to 71-3, was unbeatable, Agassi said: "He's lost three times. Yeah, he's definitely beatable. I just don't like those odds."

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