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HTLS 2020 Week 3 Live: Realised Federer was best when I faced him - Agassi

Tennis greats Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf talk about impact of Covid-19 on sports.

By hindustantimes.com | Updated: Dec 03, 2020 21:06 IST
HTLS 2020 Week 3 Live: Realised Federer was best when I faced him - Agassi

The first session of the third week of Hindustan Times Leadership Summit 2020 opened with Michelin star chefs and restaurateurs Gaggan Anand and Massimo Bottura in conversation with Ritu Dalmia who is an author, a chef and a restaurateur. The chefs talked about how Covid-19 pandemic hit the food industry and what all is needed to reinvent the sector.

In the second session, founder and CEO of Central Square Foundation Ashish Dhawan and former Isro chairman Dr Krishnaswamy Kasturirangan spoke to R Sukumar, editor-in-chief, Hindustan Times.

In the third session sports writer and journalist Ayaz Memon interacted with tennis players Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf.

This is the first time the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit —launched in 2003 — is being held virtually. The last seventeen Summits have been outstanding successes with attendance by leaders from India and across the world. The audience comprised of senior politicians, bureaucrats, diplomats, business executives, thinkers, commentators and analysts. Over the years, the Summit has become one of India’s most prestigious and eagerly awaited for.

08:41 PM IST

On regrets

Steffi Graf: "I have no regrets. I am sitting here with him (Agassi) and have two beautiful children."


Andre Agassi: "My only regret is not making her say 'yes' 10 years ago (laughs)."

08:37 PM IST

Agassi on Djokovic

Agassi on leaving Djokovic as coach: "What Novak needed was a reason to fight and care. He did not lose his game overnight. Lot of information he needed to process for a while. Me challenging him to stop working with him, to give him a reason to prove something. He went back to his roots - like Rocky - his fight. That's what he needed. He is always looking to get agitated on tennis court. I might have poked the bear little harder and little sooner."

08:35 PM IST

'Never got to enjoy the game': Agassi

"Never got to enjoy playing the game. We were measured with scoreboard - trying to win the game. It affected ability to enjoy the game," says Agassi

08:31 PM IST

'Serena's accomplishments have been great': Graf

Graf on GOAT debate in women's tennis: Serena’s accomplishments have been incredible. I was ready to retire at 29-30 but seeing her mental toughness… how she’s out there and determined, it’s amazing. In terms of greatest of all, to be mentioned in that and being recognised for it, I feel thankful. I don’t lose any sleep about it.

08:30 PM IST

Agassi on Nadal

Agassi: I never got to face Nadal's best tennis and I’m thankful for that. Novak is someone who can play on any surface and be capable to win. And that is a big thing to say. Overall, tennis is the winner.

08:28 PM IST

Agassi on Federer

"The day I played Federer, that was the day I realised I was playing the greatest player of all time," says Andre Agassi.

09:01 PM IST

Agassi on men's tennis

Agassi: "I am glad the highlight of my career didn't come during this generation. We have three guys who are greatest of all times - all playing at same time. But these younger have started knocking on the doors. Zverev, Medevev, Thiem - who are 20-22 years old - who not only believe they can win but have starting expecting it. A change of guard is coming - top these three have done what is sports has done."

09:02 PM IST

Steffi Graf on change in women's tennis

Graf: "There has been a new crop of players. Ashleigh Barty is someone who is an incredible talent but she came in late to the sport. They all have a complete game already but still have a lot of energy. Quite a few of these girls have energised the women's game. Serena has been the flag bearer but a lot of new players have come through."

08:19 PM IST

Andre Agassi on his charity work

"My lack of choice in life was a big deal," says Andre Agassi. "When I saw kids with no opportunities, I took out a 40 million mortgage. I realised there are kids that need education and I felt like a failure. I got tired of waiting for govt," he said.

08:18 PM IST

Agassi and Graf on impact they had on each other

Graf: We came together at a time when we knew each other already. There may be certain difference in personalities, but I find that we are very similar to each other and we think our priorities are pretty aligned.


Agassi: The discipline she’s shown in her career is obviously something my personality could not live up to. You learn that it’s the same but it’s different. She has made me a lot more thoughtful in the way I react. Tennis has taught us both. There are moments when we see eye to eye, our reaction is not to have eye contact.

08:13 PM IST

'Respect Osaka for support towards BLM': Agassi

Andre Agassi: When I see men and women and how they choose to conduct themselves, it’s always a question to me why somebody is clear and has a perspective – whatever it may be. I’ve lived my life taking chances. There’s a lot of good that comes from this as long as they’re conducted in a paradigm of compassion. I respect those who are willing to approach that way. We respect Osaka for her support towards Black Lives Matter.

08:08 PM IST

Steffi Graf on sports being cruel and/or fulfilling

Steffi Graf: "You learn to put things in perspective. We were lucky that we were in sports. We as tennis players luckily have so many chances throughout the year. From grand slams, we have the big master tournaments. If we don’t do well in one, you have the next week to make it up. There’s a small period when you can enjoy your victory. Learning that has given me a perspective of highs and lows. Take it day after day. Don’t look too far ahead or far behind. Learn from the past but don’t live in it."

08:06 PM IST

'Human touch is important': Agassi

Agassi on understanding yourself: I believe people need to be true to themselves and need to be self aware. We all find some distractions and athletes pour this in their training. Athletes keep asking the most of themselves. If you can slow down I believe it will be healthy. I think we all have our own experiences but I believe we all are living the same life. The human touch is important. It might look great to hold a beautiful trophy but the struggle that goes into it is intense. I wanted to understand that struggle. I think everything should be transparent in our journey.

08:03 PM IST

Steffi Graf addresses topic of mental health

Graf (Mental health): It’s tough because to find that emotional balance, emotionally it’s hard day after day to ask the best of us. As you get closer to the top, the expectations are a lot. You don’t realise the amount of pressure not just from outside, but even from the perfectionist that is within you. Once you walk away, you’re far from having that equilibrium.

08:03 PM IST

Agassi on importance of speaking on mental health

Andre Agassi said it is important for people to talk about mental health. "I believe somebody needs to be true to themselves, for that you need to be self-aware. You need to prioritise mental athletes. We all find our all forms of distraction in life," he says.

First published: Dec 03, 2020 17:17 IST