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.
Agassi hit flatter than Fed, which is both easier (less chance of clipping the frame or near it, producing a weak shot) and harder (less net clearance). But flat shots fly faster for a given swingspeed. I would guess that Fed's average RHS is faster than Agassi's was, so he's hitting nearly as fast a ball as Agassi but with more spin. What's pure ball striking anyway? A fast, flat ball? A heavy, accurate ball?
The question of flat vs. spin is also relavant to the baseline half volley. Yes, Agassi pretty much invented, and was master of that shot. But he hit it flat with an oversize frame, which is easier to time than grinding it with topspin like Fed does with a midsize.
When watching highlights of matches like the 04 US Open final vs. Hewitt
, it's tough for me to think that Agassi ever struck the ball better, cleaner or more fearsomely than Fed does there. On the other hand, Agassi could bash! Here's a great match vs. a prime Becker: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXQJK8P9bHU