ESPN Tennis has a week-long series titled “What if…” that hypothetically pits current and former tennis superstars against one another to see how they would match up, if they were playing each other in their respective primes. It’s an interesting, in-depth analysis of playing styles, and Brad Gilbert presents his final analysis and pick. Here is an excerpt from their piece on Rafael Nadal vs. Andre Agassi.
Matchup: Rafael Nadal versus Andre Agassi
Venue: US Open
Brad Gilbert verdict: Andre would want the court to be quick and lower bouncing. Against Nadal, who likes a slower surface and higher bounces, this would be an equalizer for Andre. It’s a big factor. But the surface at the Open has changed a few times. In recent years, it’s medium-paced and the ball bounces really high. Andre would have to make Nadal move, but on today’s surface that would be a lot harder.
Andre would have to hit through Nadal and control every point, and couldn’t put himself in a defensive position, which would be pretty difficult to do on a consistent basis. A good match, but if they were playing with the court as it is today, I’d go with Nadal.
This has us thinking: How would other tennis superstars from the past match up against Rafa? It would be really interesting to see Rafa against Bjorn Borg at the French Open, for example. Which player do you most want to see Rafa play against? Tell us in the comments below!