Djokovic can surprise the world, says Agassi

Andre Agassi feels that Novak Djokovic will overtake the Swiss great’s record of 20 Grand Slam titles.

Andre Agassi with Vijay Amritraj at an advertising event in Kochi.   -  H.Vibhu

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.

“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.

“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.”

At peace

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.