Andre Agassi served up a strong argument yesterday: Rafael Nadal, he declared, is the greatest tennis player of all time.
It is difficult to volley back a winner against the opinion of Agassi, a former world No. 1 and winner of eight Grand Slams who retired after the 2006 US Open.
Talking to The Straits Times in an interview organised by Swiss watchmaker Longines, he said: "I'd put Nadal No. 1, (Roger) Federer No. 2.
The reason is that "Federer separated himself from the field for four years. He separated himself from (Andy) Roddick and (Lleyton) Hewitt.
"Nadal had to deal with Federer, (Novak) Djokovic, (Andy) Murray in the golden age of tennis. He has done what he has done and he's not done yet."
Agassi does not discount the career of Rod Laver, the Australian who was the only player to win all four Majors in a calendar year twice, in 1962 and 1969.
"I would need to talk to a historian a bit better when it comes to Laver, so I don't leave him out of the discussion," acknowledged the 44-year-old.
"But if you separate Laver... I would say Nadal has earned his keep and more."
While many pundits and observers point to Federer, winner of a record 17 Grand Slam singles titles, as the best the sport has ever seen, Agassi does not concur.
Nadal has 13 Grand Slam singles titles, vanquishing Federer in six finals.
The world No. 1 Spaniard has lost just two Major finals to Federer, in one of many superior head-to-head results against leading opponents.
Nadal leads the Swiss 23-10 in career meetings over the course of their 10-year rivalry.