Originally Posted by Down_the_line
What do you guys think? Federer is undeniably the GOAT, but in terms of pure ball striking ability, I have to say it's Agassi. His ability to hit the ball so early and hit it as flat as he did was otherworldly. I don't think Federer - even in his prime - punished opponents and fired the ball from one side of the court to the other as well as Agassi.
Depends on what you mean by "pure ball striker".
He was much much better at taking the ball early, and pounding it with power and control...part of that is due his magnificent 2 handed backhand....big contrast with Fed's one hander.
In that sense....taking the ball very early...being able to control the point offensively..yes Agassi was ahead of Fed. Even in their US open matches when Andre was half in the grave, you could see that at times.
I usually think of "pure ball striking" as the ability to consistently hit the sweet spot with perfect timing of the acceleration of the swing. All pros do this inhumanely well compared to amateurs...but some are way ahead and here as well Agassi is way ahead of Fed. Though Fed is absolutely outstanding at times, his shanking puts him way behind Agassi. (Maybe Andre's big racquet helps a bit with the outright shanks, though if you shank the ball with a 90, it wasn't going to be a good shot by pro standards with any racquet).
On the other hand, in terms of spectacular shotmaking, Fed may be ahead of Andre, in that when everything was flowing for him, his more improvisational style of swing, allowed him to come up with unpredictable and devastating winners from all over the place.