“No Safe Place on the Court”: Andre Agassi Reveals Why Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are Special

Published 05/04/2021, 5:16 PM EDT
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal (R) attend the Laver Cup Gala at HEAD Geneve prior to the Laver Cup 2019 at Palexpo in Geneva, Switzerland. The Laver Cup will see six players from the rest of the World competing against their counterparts from Europe. Team World is captained by John McEnroe and Team Europe is captained by Bjorn Borg. The tournament runs from September 20-22 (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images for Laver Cup)

Former world number one and eight-time grand slam winner Andre Agassi was a celebrated athlete back in the day for his unique approach to the sport. Unlike his peers, Agassi broke several conventional playing styles and was one of the few athletes to start using more power on his shots. 


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Andre Agassi was a symbol of rebellion back in the ’90s

Agassi also became a “rebel” symbol in tennis during the early ’90s where his personality off-court made fans give him the title. Like how Nick Kyrgios was lauded by tennis fans for his demeanor, the American used to get fans to root for him when he played against peers like Pete Sampras, Jim Courier, Boris Becker, etc. 


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PARIS – JUNE 6: Tennis players Steffi Graf (L) and Andre Agassi attend the Foundation Graf-Agassi exhibition charity match presented by Longines at the Stade Roland Garros on June 6, 2009 in Paris, France. (Photo by Michel Dufour/WireImage)

However, it was his game that brought him several accolades across the globe for revolutionizing tennis. He was the best returner the game has ever seen until Novak Djokovic came along. Also, his ability to take the ball on the rise was one of the many reasons that taunted opponents. 

However, one surprising aspect of Agassi’s life story was that he became a legend of the sport by not enjoying the game. In his autobiography Open, the American explained about his rough childhood and how he dreaded tennis initially as a teenage boy. 

In his autobiography, Agassi made several startling confessions to his fans, and all the discussions that happened at the back of the court before an important matchup is what makes this book a must-read. 

The American talked about the book, tennis in general, and the domination of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in a recent interview. 


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Agassi heaps praise on the longevity of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal

Responding to a fan question on what makes Federer and Nadal special, Agassi said, “I played Roger in the finals of 2005 US Open. There was no safe place in the court. At that time, he probably had the best forehand in the world.

“His movement was a joke. His hands at the net were a joke. He might have had at least five things individually better than anyone on the men’s tour back then.”

From 1998 to 2005, Agassi played against Federer 11 times and won 3 of them. The American made constant adjustments to his game to play against different generations of players as the Federer-Nadal era was the last bunch of players Agassi faced before retiring from the sport. 

The eight-time grand slam champion also mentioned Nadal’s incredible endurance that led to his longevity. 

Rafa comes along and he brings such enormous spin to the game that actually changes the rules of engagement. So you have 2 things with Rafa that are clearly stand out to me, is that because he can hit the ball and it’s not in till it bounces, that changes positions in the court, where you can play, that offsets all those other qualities that I mentioned about Federer.


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“Plus his power of movement, strength, endurance, and physicality is unmatched,” Agassi explained. 

Novak Djokovic of Serbia, Rafael Nadal of Spain and Roger Federer of Switzerlan wait to go on stage during the ATP Heritage Celebration at The Waldorf=Astoria on in New York City. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Indeed, it was a true blessing to have Djokovic, Nadal, and Federer dominate the sport for over a decade and create invincible records. While the next-gen players found a way to beat them at the Masters’ events, they are scratching their heads to figure out how to dominate the Big-3 at grand slams. 


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Sagar Ashtakoula

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Sagar Ashtakoula is a tennis writer at EssentiallySports. He has been following the sport since 2007. Having developed an interest in creating content, he mixed his passion for writing with his love for tennis for 2 years at SportsKeeda before joining the tennis team at EssentiallySports.