time record

Agassi Praises Federer

It was highly appropriate that Andre Agassi was the man to hand Roger Federer La Coupe des Mousquetaires as the 2009 French Open champion. With his win, Federer completed a “Career Grand Slam” and made claim to being the greatest tennis player of all-time with this 14th major singles title – tying the all-time record set by Pete Sampras. Federer became only the sixth man to win a Career Grand Slam – with Agassi being the last man to complete the rare feat, also at Roland Garros 10 years earlier in 1999. Following his 2005 US Open final-round loss to Federer, Agassi praised Federer as the best player he ever played. The following excerpt from Rene Stauffer’s book THE ROGER FEDERER STORY, QUEST FOR PERFECTION ($24.95, New Chapter Press, www.rogerfedererbook.com) documents Agassi’s remarks.

Following the match, Agassi had the highest of praise for Federer, calling him best player he ever faced. “Pete (Sampras) was great, no question,” Agassi said. “But there was a place to get to with Pete. It could be on your terms. There’s no such place with Roger. I think he’s the best I’ve played against.” Said Federer of Agassi’s comments, “It’s fantastic to be compared to all the players he’s played throughout his career. We’re talking about the best-some are the best of all time. And I still have chances to improve.”

Federer, fighting off the partisan crowd and a determined and inspired Agassi, said he felt the match was lost in the third set. “I’m amazed that I did it and that it’s already over,” he said just after the match. “Agassi was like the fish that had gotten away from me.” Next to Martina Navratilova, Agassi was the only living-legend still active on the tour. “Playing against him while I am at the peak of my career and his is coming to a close, in New York of all places, and in the final of the US Open-that was probably the most imporĀ­tant match in my life.”

Federer was not resentful-or surprised-of the biased crowd that cheered so vociferously for Agassi. “I was prepared for the worst but it was harder than I expected,” he said of the crowd. “I hoped that there would have been more applause when I made good shots, but I understand the crowd. The stars were in the right alignment for Agassi to potentially end his career like Sampras or Ivanisevic by winning a Grand Slam title.”