Agassi: Top players have raised the bar

25 January 2013 10:52

Agassi, speaking on his first visit to Melbourne since his retirement in 2006, described Djokovic, Federer and Nadal as the benchmark in a 'golden age' of men's tennis.

The eight-time grand slam winner will present the men's singles title at the Australian Open on Sunday to either Serbian world number one Djokovic, Swiss number two Federer or British number four Andy Murray.

"It's been amazing watching the standard continually get better. You wonder how it's possible to continue at that sort of rate," Agassi said.

"It's just a different standard of tennis. It's different rules of engagement when guys can do what these guys can do.

"I would have had to be a different player, would've had to have a different body. It means the game has gotten a lot better.

"You know, Fed raised it; Nadal matched and raised it; Djokovic, for that intense little period of time, even raised it.

"When I see those top three guys, I see what history will say is the golden age of tennis.

"You're talking about arguably the three best guys. Djokovic will still need some distance to cover, but best of all time, if you're having that discussion in the same generation, it's remarkable."

Agassi, who admitted to recreational drug use in his 2009 autobiography, said he was saddened by disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong's belated doping confession.

"Well, my reaction to it is the same as everybody. It was shock, hard to stomach, sadness, disappointment," he said.

"I was certainly one of those that flat out believed him that long period of time. The thought of it not being the case was unconscionable to me."

Agassi said he felt tennis was generally clean and questioned whether anyone would be able to replicate the amount of doping that Armstrong admitted to.

"It's a sport where I wouldn't know how to get away with that level of cheating," Agassi said.

"When last I played, it was comprehensive in the sense of nearly every tournament, nearly week to week, blood, urine, out-of-competition testing.

"I don't know how it's changed, but if it's stayed the same at least that's a good thing."

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