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Djokovic can surprise the world: Agassi

Serb can overtake Federer’s record
Djokovic can surprise the world: Agassi

Legend feels the Serb can overtake Federer’s record of 20 Grand Slam titles

He lives in Las Vegas and may have lost a number of bets with his predictions on Roger Federer, but Andre Agassi feels that Novak Djokovic will overtake the Swiss great’s record of 20 Grand Slam titles.

(Thehindu) – “Absolutely, Novak has 15 now and he is 32 but his body is more like 25. He got two Grand Slam titles last year. If he gets two titles every year for the next three years, he can easily catch them all,” said Agassi, the game’s flamboyant superstar in his prime, in a conversation with Indian great Vijay Amritraj at the International Advertising Association’s World Congress here on Friday.

‘Greatest generation’

Agassi, who lit up tennis with his shoulder-length streaked hair and brightly-coloured shorts, feels that with stars like Federer, Rafael Nadal (17 Grand Slam titles) and Djokovic around, we are currently looking at the greatest generation in the history of tennis.

“And I think Novak can surprise the world with something the game has never seen before.”

Agassi, an eight-time Grand Slam winner and a former World No. 1, proved that he could be as entertaining during a chat as he was on court many years ago. He was witty but also offered a peep into the time when he hated tennis after being forced to drop out of school and stay away from his family.

Forced career

“I think my career was probably about the journey itself. Unlike Vijay who played his tennis with great passion, I was forced into it,” said the 48-year-old.

“My father who came from Iran couldn’t speak a word of English and saw tennis as a passage to the great American dream. I faced a great deal of pressure and at an early age, I was sent away from home.

“Even though I was very good at tennis, I felt disconnected with it and there was a great deal of resentment.

“Quite honestly, I happened to be good at a sport that I just hated.”

But now, married to the legendary Steffi Graf and with two children, he is at peace with himself, with his investments in children’s education that has seen him open nearly a 100 charter schools in the US and with his philanthropic work.

Agassi’s big regret

When Agassi won the Wimbledon title in 1992, he was thrilled. But there was disappointment too.

“The women’s champion has to open the Champions Dance with the men’s champion. And I was very excited about dancing with Steffi Graf, the women’s champion then,” said Agassi, then 22.

“After the match, I was in a tuxedo and looking forward to this dance. I waited and waited and then they announced that for the first time in the history of the Wimbledon Ball, based on how players had responded to it, that they were not going to have the female and male champions dance.

“I was thinking to myself, you are all about tradition and during my moment, you are not going to have the traditional dance. I’m never going to win this tournament again.”

With wife Graf – a winner of 22 Grand Slam titles – around, Agassi was always the No. 2 at home. So Vijay Amritraj came up with a cheeky question.

“Do you hit tennis balls with your hitting partner at home?” Vijay Amritraj asked. “She is tough to play tennis with, because…what’s the first thing you learn in tennis? ‘Watch the ball’. But when you play Steffi Graf, you can’t watch the ball,” said Agassi.

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