Andre Agassi puts Roger Federer in class above Pete Sampras

Roger Federer racketRanking the greatest athletes in the history of a sport is a complex task that always leads to debate. Many say Roger Federer is the greatest tennis player of all time, while others like John McEnroe are giving their vote to Rafael Nadal. Some go back in history and point to Rod Laver, and some may throw Pete Sampras into the discussion. But if you ask Andre Agassi, Federer, Laver and Nadal are in a different class from Sampras.

Agassi, who won eight majors and is one of only three players in the Open Era to win all four grand slams, joined HuffPost Live on Monday and broke down the greats of all time.

Agassi had a notorious rivalry on and off the court with Sampras and termed Pete his “nemesis,” though he stated Pete was the “best of his time.” However, Agassi says he puts Federer (and Nadal and Laver) in a class above Sampras, despite Sampras winning 14 grand slams.

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Pete Sampras: Novak Djokovic can challenge my No. 1 ranking record

Novak Djokovic Pete Sampras

Novak Djokovic is the current No. 1 player in the world, and he is drawing some high praise from Pete Sampras. The retired tennis legend says he thinks Djokovic can challenge his record of finishing No. 1 in the rankings at year’s end for six years in a row.

Sampras held the top spot in the world rankings at year’s end from 1993-1998. Djokovic has done it twice in a row. Sampras thinks the Serbian player can do it for many more years.

“I do [think Djokovic can remain No. 1 for years]. I was thinking about that when he won Monte Carlo,” Sampras told TENNIS.com in a conference call with the media. “He could stay No. 1 for quite a while, five or six years in a row. Realistically, if he stays healthy, he could very well do it.”

Sampras was doing the call to promote the second annual Greenbrier Champions Tennis Classic, which is on September 21-22. He referenced Djokovic’s impressive win at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters last week. Djokovic beat Rafael Nadal 6-2, 7-6 on clay, which is Nadal’s specialty.

Sampras cited Djokovic’s versatility as a reason why he could challenge the mark.

“He’s so good. Really, even though the players are great today, I think he really only has to be concerned with a couple of them,” Sampras told TENNIS.com. “Roger [Federer] and Rafa and [Andy] Murray are the only ones that can really push him. I see him—if he stays healthy—staying on top for as long as he wants to be. I just think he’s that good. He wins on hard court, he wins on clay, he wins on grass. He’s done it all. I think he can stay on top for as long as he wants to be.”

Djokovic, 25, has already won six majors. He has won the Australian Open four times and Wimbledon and the US Open once. The only major to elude him has been the French — just like Sampras — though he has come much closer to winning at Roland Garros than Pete ever did. He lost to Nadal at the finals of the French Open last year, so winning at Monte Carlo this year should be a huge confidence boost for him. He also bounced back from his five-set loss to Murray at the US Open with a four-set win in the finals of the Australian in January.

Being No. 1 at year’s end for another four straight seasons would not be easy. Djokovic would have to avoid injuries and a down season. But if anyone can do it, it’s certainly him.

Photo: Twitter/Novak Djokovic

Video: Pete Sampras Congrats Roger Federer in Nike Commercial

From showing up at Wimbledon to watch Roger Federer in person, to calling him the greatest ever after Roger tied him by winning the French Open, Pete Sampras has been quite gracious in losing his standing as the player who won the most grand slam events. In fact, Nike rolled out the red carpet in their commercial congratulating Roger Federer for winning his record 15th grand slam:

Yes, that’s John McEnroe, Serena Williams, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, and the rest of your friends at Nike congratulating Fed on the record. That’s a pretty sweet cast to assemble but I guess it’s easy when they’re all pulling in paychecks from the swoosh. Oh yeah, and what does Tiger have to say now that Roger’s passed him up?