Tennis Prose



Did Andre Agassi Play The Greatest Tennis?

My declaration that Daniil Medvedev played the greatest tennis match performance in yesterday’s US Open final vs Novak Djokovic, has sparked an interesting array of differing opinions.

Henry Mandeville believes that Andre Agassi. not Medvedev, Federer, Djokovic, Safin, Nadal, Laver, Borg, Sampras or McEnroe has played the highest level of tennis ever seen.

“Agassi was the greatest of all time! Ive seen them all since 1978 when I started playing tennis and loving the game. I was very, very good but not a high end pro….and at my very best I was probably equivalent to about the 600-900th best player in the world…as many of the people I beat around the same time were ranked from 100-600 in the world. I simply was too busy at that time doing bong hits, and never went through the gesticulation of traveling to South America to prove I could get that elusive ATP point, knowing that I wasn’t elite and couldn’t make a living playing tennis.”

“That said, many of the people I’m friends with saw what I saw and know what I know. Media types, And Swarthmore educated, D3 players turned tennis writers can argue ALL DAY about who is the greatest of all time, I get it. It’s valid that the ‘Big Three’ etc. have the best collective body of works…..However—NO ONE living on this earth can convince me that at the TOP GEAR—at best level of their life -that anyone was EVER better than Andre Agassi. His best would have beaten anyone in the world, across all eras. His best was the best anyone has ever seen.”

“I think Agassi’s absolute best was the highest level ever played. On a per match basis. I’m not arguing that all the others aren’t overall better. I’m normalizing equipment and training and I’m simply saying that at the top end highest level ever attained for the tiny microcosm of a one match stint—that Agassi reached the highest level. I’ve also seen Medvedev and Kyrgios and Joker play absolutely unconscious short stints. Nadal grinds, Federer grinded with precision. The argument isn’t over time – it’s, with normalizing for equipment who reached the highest level. I didn’t see them play but from what I hear, I suspect Laver and Bill Tilden also reached a short term untouchable high level.”

“You didn’t see Andre Agassi beat Doug Livingston 6-0 6-0 in 29 minutes at the boys 16’s National Indoors…..that mother f****r hit a winner on damn near every shot he swung at…. and that was a year before he broke through at Stratton Mountain… I’m obviously a baller and I’ve seen all the best their peak ..since starting following Borg /McEnroe Connors in ’78. In my opinion, Agassi’s TOP level was the highest gear ever attained in this sport.”

No doubt, Mr. Mandeville makes a persuasive argument and he’s still passionately convinced to this day that Agassi at his best was the supreme tennis juggernaut.

It’s impossible to prove Henry right or wrong. And his unique perspective and vehement belief certainly deserves respect.

Maybe the finest tennis performance we ever saw, the absolute highest level of play happened in a random, forgotten match in a small tournament most people don’t remember. Maybe perhaps it even happened in the final of the 1998 Miami Open when Marcelo Rios became ATP World No. 1 by totally dismantling Agassi 75 63 64.

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1 comment

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 13, 2021 at 9:34 am

    I played a guy named Peter Haggar about ten years ago at the old St. Petersburg FL tennis club a few blocks away from Tropicana Field and Haggar beat me 63 75 and after the match I asked who is the best player he ever played and he said Agassi beat him at around age 15 60 60 in 23 minutes at Sarasota Bath and Racquet Club.



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