Winner of eight Grand Slams, Andre Agassi has known as celebrity Roger Federer the ‘greatest player of all time’. In a dialog with veteran sports activities journalist Ayaz Memon on Day 5 of the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit, Agassi defined how going through Federer for the first time satisfied him that the Swiss player was on the path to greatness.
They first met in solely the third match of Federer’s profession – the 1998 Swiss Indoors – with Agassi prevailing over the then 17-12 months-previous. Agassi went on to beat Federer at the 2001 US Open and the finals of the Miami Open in 2002, earlier than shedding the subsequent 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, mentioned whereas talking by way of video convention at HTLS 2020.
Federer, together with Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic make for the ‘Big 3’ in trendy day tennis, with the three superstars combining to win 57 singles Grand Slam titles. Agassi, who has squared off towards all three, candidly revealed he feels grateful to not have confronted Nadal at the prime of his sport, and known as Djokovic an entire 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 mirrored on the domination of the three mega stars of tennis, highlighting that though it’s unimaginable figuring out what Djokovic, Nadal and Federer have achieved of their respective careers, the kids at present are tremendously succesful. So a lot, that the eight-time Grand Slam winner feels fortunate to not be competing in at present’s period.
“[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 mentioned.
Covid-19 has impacted folks throughout all walks of life in a roundabout way or the opposite. On Thursday, former tennis greats Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf spoke about how they’re coping with the adjustments that the pandemic has caused of their lives and in addition about the way in which it has affected tennis players and different athletes around the globe, whereas talking to senior sports activities journalist Ayaz Memon on day 5 of the 18th Hindustan Times Leadership Summit.
“It’s been tough across the board for the entire world and even for the sports world. I am lucky to be involved in education as that gives me an outlet to figure out some solutions in the schools that I manage. This time has made us all come together despite being separate. It has made us better cooks (laughs), it has made us come together as a family,” Agassi stated whereas narrating his private expertise of coping with the lockdown.
ALSO READ: The day I played Federer, I realised I was playing the greatest player of all time, says Andre Agassi
Steffi Graf echoed related emotions but additionally spoke concerning the positives of household life that the lockdown has led to.
“There have been several challenges like we not being able to be with you guys in person today. But there have been benefits too. The kids have been more at home and there has been a lot more family time. We have spent a lot of quality time with the kids. We are trying to take the positives but when you look around the world and the struggles that people have had to face, it has been tough,” Graf, winner of 22 ladies’s singles grand slams, stated.
Talking about how the lockdown has impacted tennis players Agassi stated that the hardest factor for players has been to cope with the unknown. The lack of readability of when issues will return to regular has been a problem for the players he felt.
“The most difficult part is the unknown. Not knowing when you’re going to play and what the circumstances are going to be. So the unknown is tough. That’s been a big deal, not knowing when to play. I call it a great equaliser. Players who are older – Federer, or Serena – you start realising that missing this time tricks your body. All of a sudden, you’re asked to shut down and restart. Not going to be easy for some more than the others,” Agassi opined.
Agassi is an 8-time grand slam champion and a gold medal winner on the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Graf is a former legend of the ladies’s recreation, profitable 22 grand slams and in addition the Olympic gold within the 12 months 1988. The two former greats have been married since 2001 and have been working for the trigger of underprivileged youngsters since retiring from the sport.
It may be troublesome to grasp that two of the world’s biggest tennis professionals with 30 Grand Slam singles titles between them can really feel ache and struggling so deeply. Andre Agassi and Stefanie Graf have tasted actually every part there’s on the platter on the largest stage of tennis: Grand Slam success, world No. 1 rating, Olympic gold. And but, for them, wrestle remained a companion even on the top.
“We all struggle. It might look like a beautiful bed of roses because you’re holding a trophy, but the pain and suffering that goes into it creates the same anxieties in all of us,” stated Agassi, who has given a riveting account of his fall from the top within the mid-Nineteen Nineties as a result of accidents, drug use and a damaged marriage wth Brooke Shields in his autobiography, Open.
“That’s why I decided to write my book, because I wanted to understand my struggles and express it. I believe everything should transparent in our journey. It can only help each other to know that we are not alone in it,” stated the eight-time Grand Slam winner, who overcame these adversities and fought his method again to the top.
No such emotional curler-coaster for Graf, a 22-time Grand Slam champion who was glued to the top of the world rankings for a document 377 weeks, it’s secure to imagine? “I was a good actress, then,” Graf quipped.
“Oh, I’ve had my ups and downs and challenges. In tennis, every day you go out on the court and strive to reach your limits. And it’s difficult to find that emotional balance. You might have it physically, but sometimes emotionally it’s hard to, day after day, ask the best of you. When you get closer to the top, the expectations and demands that you have, you don’t always feel that way but you’ve still got to ask the best of you. It’s hard, and you don’t realise the amount of pressure that sometimes you ask of yourself, not even from the outside. You’re far from having that equilibrium that you hope.”
Equilibrium is what they present in one another. Agassi, an unfiltered persona wrapped in lengthy hair and brilliant garments throughout his youthful days, met his calming affect in Graf, and the 2 married in 2001 to develop into tennis’ most outstanding couple. Agassi stated his solely remorse in life was that the union occurred 10 years too late.
“There’s a lot to be said for being attracted to what you respect and what you’re not,” Agassi stated. “The discipline she has always shown in her career is something that my personality couldn’t abide. Her personality and skill-sets allowed her to go about things differently. And that’s attractive. It’s the same, but it’s different.”
Graf agreed. “I think we came together at a time when we knew each other pretty well already,” she stated. “There might be certain differences in how we handle things and personalities, but in all of the right things I find that we are similar. Our priorities and thoughts are very aligned. By raising kids too you learn so much about each other. Between the value, respect and trust for each other, it’s working really well, let’s just put it that way.”
The two have additionally discovered their calling in philanthropy of their post-tennis life. While Agassi has fashioned the “Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation” to offer instructional alternatives for teenagers, Graf has established the “Children for Tomorrow” that helps kids from battle-torn locations.
“I felt like my lack of choice, being forced into tennis at a young age and out of school, left me very disconnected with my life,” Agassi stated about taking the plunge into charity. “At one of the lowest points of my career is when I decided to give children with no choice that opportunity. Getting involved in this gave me the platform to move forward with my educational objectives.”