Andre Agassi: Roger Federer is “a Class Above” Pete Sampras

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Eight-time Grand Slam champion Andre Agassi (Player Bio) joined HuffPost Live on Monday to discuss his rivalry with fellow American Pete Sampras (Player Bio) as well as debate the greatest players of all time. While Agassi insisted that Sampras was the best player of his generation, he could not place the title of “greatest ever” on his rival.

“I think Federer (Player Bio) is a class above, quite frankly. I mean, you’re talking about a guy who dominated pretty much on every surface, minus one guy on clay. He’s won everything,” Agassi told Marc Lamont Hill of HuffPost Live. “Pete was obviously off the hook on faster courts but during the clay season players wanted to play against him. It was opportunity to get a win over him, it was an opportunity to beat him. You didn’t have that luxury with Fed. He was really the world class, all-around player.”

While Federer is widely considered as the greatest tennis star of all time, Rafael Nadal’s remarkable comeback in 2013, winning a record 5 ATP Masters titles and 2 Grand Slam titles, has brought the Spaniard’s name back into the discussion as the greatest ever. Nadal is closing in on Federer’s Grand Slam title record, is a multiple time Davis Cup champion (which Federer never won), an Olympic Gold Medalist in Singles (which Federer also never won) and holds a 21-10 head-to-head over the Swiss no. 1.

“I personally think that Nadal has an argument to be made for the best of all time. If Nadal is sitting at a table with Federer and Federer says, ‘I’m the best ever,’ my first question would be ‘well then how come you didn’t beat me because I beat you twice as many times? And, hey, by the way, you know I won everything including gold medal and Davis Cup.'”

Whether fans side with Roger or Rafa, Agassi believes that the ability to have a heated debate about two players from the same generation as potentially being the greatest ever emphasizes this extraordinary era in tennis history.

“At the same token, Federer has separated himself during a few years, like nobody else, and he’s done it more consistently. To be able to make the argument for both guys playing in the same generation is pretty remarkable.”

Agassi was also asked about where he fits in the discussion but was adamant that he was “not even close.”

“It’s not even close,” Agassi said. “I’m way down the list from guys like that. I did manage to win all of them but that’s just the first criteria in my mind.”

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Agree with Agassi on Sampras vs Federer. But disagree with Agassi on Nadal vs Federer.

1. Federer is (a) still the greatest player in the Nadal era (since 2005 French Open), (b) the greatest player in his Federer era (since 2003 Wimbledon), (b) the greatest player in the ATP era (since 1972) and the Open era (since 1968), and (d) the acclaimed greatest player of all time (since 1877).

The following links show why Federer's career accomplishments are superior to that of Sampras and Nadal:

The following links show how much Federer dominates the records in the ATP era and Open era (do a find/search for Federer, Sampras and Nadal, and see where and how often their names pop up):

The following links explain why Federer remains the greatest player in the Nadal era since mid-2005. How can Nadal be considered for greatest of all time when he is not even the greatest in his own Nadal era?

2. In the Open Era, head-to-head records have not been used to evaluate the great players. That's because H2H rivalries are a secondary consequence of the primary goals of the ATP tennis tour, which are: win biggest titles, win most titles, be No. 1 ranked player. These goals are the primary criteria for evaluating the GOAT. It is similar in other major sports - it's far more important to win the big prizes (Superbowl, World Series or NBA Championship) than to have a winning record over a rival team.

3. Nadal did not win "everything": Nadal failed to win the World Tour Finals year-end championship. It is the fifth most prestigious title in tennis after the four slams. Its roll of winners is better than most slams. It’s more valued (in terms of points) than the Olympics and Davis Cup. The WTF is historically significant in the Open Era, since today's ATP Tour is based on the 1970 Grand Prix tennis circuit with its Grand Prix Masters to climax the season. The Grand Prix circuit kept the contract pros from abandoning - and weakening - the four slams and Davis Cup for NTL/WCT events that made money for the promoters (in other words, the slams, Davis Cup and Olympics would be insignificant today if not for the Grand Prix events such as the year-end championship).