Agassi hails Federer as game's greatest

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> The retired eight-time Grand Slam champion hailed world number one Roger Federer as the greatest player in tennis history.

Updated: September 01, 2009 17:36 IST
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New York:

On a night when Andre Agassi was honored at the US Open for his charity work, the retired eight-time Grand Slam champion hailed world number one Roger Federer as the greatest player in tennis history.

Agassi said he was delighted to see the Swiss superstar join Agassi in completing the career Grand Slam by capturing the French Open title in June and then win his career record 15th Slam singles title in July at Wimbledon.

"What he's done in separating himself from the game should be recognized," Agassi said. "The problem is it wasn't being recognized if he didn't win Paris. I thought once he did the discussion is over with.

"What started to become even more frustrating as I looked at Roger's career for Roger is him having to win the 15th to somehow conclude, so for him just to remove that as some sort of possible thorn I think is right."

It was 10 years ago on the red clay of Roland Garros when Agassi completed his career Slam by lifting the trophy in Paris, so he knew Federer's joy at having secured a victory in all four Grand Slam events.

"It was just a pleasure to watch," Agassi said. "It would have been a crime had he not ever won in Paris."

Federer had lost to Spain's Rafael Nadal in the French Open finals the past three years, missing a Grand Slam sweep in 2006 and 2007 as a result of the Paris loss each time, but finally broke through this year.

"He has been the second best clay courter for five years running," Agassi said. "He should have won four or five French Opens, if it wasn't for one sort of freakish kid from Mallorca.

"He would have won possibly two Grand Slams, all four in the same year, two years in a row."

Agassi and fellow retired US sport stars David Robinson from basketball, Mia Hamm from women's football and American football quarterback Doug Flutie received a tribute for their charity deeds at an Arthur Ashe Stadium ceremony.

"I'm extra proud to share this court with athletes that are not only great but doing great work, affecting so many lives and impacting so many people," Agassi told the crowd.

Agassi's foundation has raised nearly 75 million dollars in the past 15 years to finance a school for needy children in Las Vegas. His first graduating class this year will attend college.

"No accomplishment has come close to matching the fulfillment I feel with what our foundation is doing," Agassi said.

"The earlier we interrupt a downward spiral, the earlier we give the tools of hope, the more profoundly we can impact the life of a child."

Agassi, who made a third-round exit in the 2006 US Open to conclude his career, was glad to be the center of attention at Arthur Ashe Stadium again, even if only for one night.

"It feels amazing," Agassi said. "It feels great pulling up to the stadium, not caring how you feel. That's probably the best part.

"I can't tell you how many times I've come here a little bit tired, a little bit sore, a little bit injured, a little bit distracted. There's nowhere to hide out there so I've lived and died on this court many times and taken a lot of people with me."

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