What was Agassi's baseline game strategy?

He looked as though he was absolutely caning every single ball, and yet made very few unforced errors. How was he able to basically hit hard and consistently?
 
Latter day Agassi played much differently to early Agassi. Early Agassi went for winners a lot more. Later Agassi objective was to move the opponent around the court. His shots were safer than they perhaps looked. They are many matches where he is overpowered
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
Latter day Agassi played much differently to early Agassi. Early Agassi went for winners a lot more. Later Agassi objective was to move the opponent around the court. His shots were safer than they perhaps looked. They are many matches where he is overpowered
True, he played smarter when he got a bit older....he used the court a lot more.
 
True, he played smarter when he got a bit older....he used the court a lot more.
I think in a way it dimished his potential a bit. He stopped going to net, he lost rallies against the likes of Sampras too often becuase Pete would be the one to take the risk. Of course Andre's career had other issues.
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
I think in a way it dimished his potential a bit. He stopped going to net, he lost rallies against the likes of Sampras too often becuase Pete would be the one to take the risk. Of course Andre's career had other issues.
Perhaps; his net play was always a bit meh.
 

BTURNER

Legend
He robbed his opponents of sufficient recovery time in the backcourt and sufficient time to charge up to net when they tried that. I think he was great against s/vers because they had trouble getting in good net position before the rifle fire
 

California

Rookie
Aggressive baseliner. Liked to dictate from the back of the court. Wasn't a great mover or vollier, so he would try and stand in the center of the court and run his opponent. Had a great return of serve, would stand close to the baseline and crack returns. Had short backswings and excellent timing on ground strokes.
 

am1899

Hall of Fame
Agassi has relatively simple ground stroke technique on both sides - little to go wrong. He also seemed to see the ball earlier than most other tennis players - including pros. All of this adds up to him being able to stand right up on the baseline and rip ground strokes over and over.

Not sure what his strategy was when he was younger (image was everything back then). But as he got older, he became quite a tactician - always had a specific strategy for every match. One of his general strategies though, was to make his opponent feel pain.
 

beltsman

Legend
As far as I recall, his strategy was to control the middle of the court and to limit his own movement. Run his opponent back and forth. I don't recall him having real point-ending tendencies, but he wasn't a pusher either by any means. I think that was one of his problems - okay, you're moving your opponent, now what?
 
As far as I recall, his strategy was to control the middle of the court and to limit his own movement. Run his opponent back and forth. I don't recall him having real point-ending tendencies, but he wasn't a pusher either by any means. I think that was one of his problems - okay, you're moving your opponent, now what?
completely agree. If the opponent could keep getting back the ball to a decent length, Agassi was in trouble. Early Agassi would have moved in to cut off a high ball, & he could have improved his net play to become a better player.
 

am1899

Hall of Fame
Agree - control the center of the court, and make opponents move - those were his break and butter. Seems to me he did improve his net play as he aged, added a slice backhand, and improved his serve.
 

Shaolin

G.O.A.T.
Take the ball early, work the angles, make opponent run and suffer.

Early Agassi was more brash and went for lots of winners as said before.

He hit relatively flat, around 1500 rpms on forehands.
 

flanker2000fr

Professional
Exceptional eye / hand coordination was allowing him to take the ball on the rise and play very close, or even inside, the baseline, therefore taking time away from his opponents. He was not trying to overpower his opponents like e.g. Lendl or Courier, but to play at a speed they couldn't cope with.

The same hand/ eye coordination ensured that he was exceptional on the return of serve, which was handy against S/V players, and his reading of the game was so good that he was rarely out of position despite not being the most athletically gifted player.
 

flanker2000fr

Professional
Take the ball early, work the angles, make opponent run and suffer.

Early Agassi was more brash and went for lots of winners as said before.

He hit relatively flat, around 1500 rpms on forehands.
That, and the fact that his game re-balanced significantly between forehand and backhand in the second half of his career. He started with a booming forehand, and a good if unspectacular backhand. He then transition to less winners / more margin on the forehand, and arguably one of the best two handed backhands in history. The ability to be dangerous on both wings is what enabled him to put pressure on opponents and led to his late successes.
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
As far as I recall, his strategy was to control the middle of the court and to limit his own movement. Run his opponent back and forth. I don't recall him having real point-ending tendencies, but he wasn't a pusher either by any means. I think that was one of his problems - okay, you're moving your opponent, now what?
Basically, the objective was in what we call 'forcing' errors, rather than hitting winners

Now of course, forced and unforced errors are just abstract concepts we've created

By moving the other guy around, Agassi... shall we say, 'strongly encouraged' them to make errors? 'invited them to make errors'?

He drew a lot of errors that are skimming the borderline of 'forced' and 'unforced'... as a percentage play, its a great strategy... he can win points this way consistently, while keeping his own unforced errors down low because he's hitting relatively safely

To force errors, most players have to go for something extra on their shot, thus they'll make more errors themselves. But Agassi could force errors hitting almost his regulation shots

completely agree. If the opponent could keep getting back the ball to a decent length, Agassi was in trouble. Early Agassi would have moved in to cut off a high ball, & he could have improved his net play to become a better player.
true, but I remember the general playing dynamics a bit differently

First, getting the ball back consistently with depth while being runaround isn't easy... and not many could do it to Agassi

Second, Agassi's one of the best when it comes to hitting on the rise.... he'd routinely virtually half-volley balls of the baseline with power.

Tough proposition for any baseliner going up against Agassi for a few reasons

1) Depth doesn't bother him much

2) its hard to move him around because he's the one dictating most of the time

3) he makes fewer regulation errors than most (while still being quite aggressive compared to say, Muster)

What to do than?

Just balls to the walls go for broke aggression... but that's a poor long term strategy. You'll make too many errors for it to work for long. Sampras could get away with it because Sampras could take care of his service games from the net, so he'd only being playing this way on return games.

Nothing to lose... if he makes errors, meh, its a return game and he can hold serve so no harm done. But if his more aggressive shots land in for a game, there's the break and Pete's got his nose in front
 

hoodjem

G.O.A.T.
Aggressive baseliner. Liked to dictate from the back of the court. Wasn't a great mover or vollier, so he would try and stand in the center of the court and run his opponent. Had a great return of serve, would stand close to the baseline and crack returns. Had short backswings and excellent timing on ground strokes.
Yep. Take the ball early, hit it on the rise.
Don't give your opponent time.
 
true, but I remember the general playing dynamics a bit differently

First, getting the ball back consistently with depth while being runaround isn't easy... and not many could do it to Agassi

Second, Agassi's one of the best when it comes to hitting on the rise.... he'd routinely virtually half-volley balls of the baseline with power.

Tough proposition for any baseliner going up against Agassi for a few reasons

1) Depth doesn't bother him much

2) its hard to move him around because he's the one dictating most of the time

3) he makes fewer regulation errors than most (while still being quite aggressive compared to say, Muster)

What to do than?
A great strategy that Pat Rafter used to employ was to hit no pace balls to agassi , particularly slice off the BH. Obvioulsy you had to be an excellent mover to pull it off and it would work best on low bouncing grass, but Agassi struggled to hit winners because he had to generate his own pace, which was against his counterpunching style.
 

lud

Hall of Fame
Great question.

I always aksed myself same thing. Similiar with Davydenko.
It seems onyl logical answer is took the ball early.
 

KG1965

Legend
Basically, the objective was in what we call 'forcing' errors, rather than hitting winners

Now of course, forced and unforced errors are just abstract concepts we've created

By moving the other guy around, Agassi... shall we say, 'strongly encouraged' them to make errors? 'invited them to make errors'?

He drew a lot of errors that are skimming the borderline of 'forced' and 'unforced'... as a percentage play, its a great strategy... he can win points this way consistently, while keeping his own unforced errors down low because he's hitting relatively safely

To force errors, most players have to go for something extra on their shot, thus they'll make more errors themselves. But Agassi could force errors hitting almost his regulation shots



true, but I remember the general playing dynamics a bit differently

First, getting the ball back consistently with depth while being runaround isn't easy... and not many could do it to Agassi

Second, Agassi's one of the best when it comes to hitting on the rise.... he'd routinely virtually half-volley balls of the baseline with power.

Tough proposition for any baseliner going up against Agassi for a few reasons

1) Depth doesn't bother him much

2) its hard to move him around because he's the one dictating most of the time

3) he makes fewer regulation errors than most (while still being quite aggressive compared to say, Muster)

What to do than?

Just balls to the walls go for broke aggression... but that's a poor long term strategy. You'll make too many errors for it to work for long. Sampras could get away with it because Sampras could take care of his service games from the net, so he'd only being playing this way on return games.

Nothing to lose... if he makes errors, meh, its a return game and he can hold serve so no harm done. But if his more aggressive shots land in for a game, there's the break and Pete's got his nose in front
The guy was sensational at the beginning.
I remember that I was very undecided whether to cheer him or Pete.
Sampras was (almost) perfect, he played a tennis more similar to what I played: classic style.
Andre played like a "pinball machine" (or "flipper" in Europe), he was a speeded Jimbo. He played ping-pong on a tennis court.WOOOOOOW.
He did a great and long career even if very discontinuous, but I liked a lot more at the beginning, when he not won or won little (as in basketball I liked a lot more Shaq, Garnett and Jordan early career, not winning but devastating) .

Agassi at the beginning of career seemed to me a player who came from another planet even if he did not win.
Then he won a lot but I did not seem to come from another planet anymore.
 

JW10S

Hall of Fame
Agassi expertly employed something I coach that I call 'automatic shots'. Since it's impossible to be able to decide 'where am I going to hit this ball?' on every shot so you have to decide ahead of time where you're going to hit for those times when you are rushed and don't have much time. More often that not Agassi would 'automatically' hit the ball crosscourt, changing it up on shots where he had more time or could step inside the court more. So while some people often find themselves having to just get the ball back when they are rushed, Agassi was hitting a much higher % of his shots with purpose. Part of why this simple strategy worked so well for him was because he could pretty much drive the ball equally well off his forehand and backhand, something few players can do. So he'd control the center of the court on his side, and he would, by the use of automatic shots, keep his opponents off center on their side then take control of the point outright when he had more time or got to move inside the baseline more. When he was on song you didn't get much chance to relax during a point against him.
 

big ted

Hall of Fame
i think he changed his game a couple times...
at the beginning he was flashy, then with brad gilbert he was
more conservative constructing points, then when he wasnt winning
so many GS titles anymore and got with cahill he started playing
more agressive again, also probably due to his back...

http://instagr.am/p/BumbhHmhmev/
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
A great strategy that Pat Rafter used to employ was to hit no pace balls to agassi , particularly slice off the BH. Obvioulsy you had to be an excellent mover to pull it off and it would work best on low bouncing grass, but Agassi struggled to hit winners because he had to generate his own pace, which was against his counterpunching style.
That pair of 5 set semis at Wimby are among my favourite matches

Yes, I recall Rafter doing that... and thinking Agassi should run up and dispatch a few volleys to keep it in check.... he turned around the '99 French final which was going disastrously for him through judicious net play, so its not like he never came up round about that period

Bad strategy from Andre

But I don't recall Rafter having much success against Agassi other than those two matches. There was a 5 setter at Australian Open that Agassi one, the playing details of which I don't remember, but a user here tells me that Rafter was cramping and barely able to move and Agassi passed him at will

Andre played like a "pinball machine" (or "flipper" in Europe), he was a speeded Jimbo. He played ping-pong on a tennis court.WOOOOOOW.
He did a great and long career even if very discontinuous, but I liked a lot more at the beginning, when he not won or won little (as in basketball I liked a lot more Shaq, Garnett and Jordan early career, not winning but devastating) .

Agassi at the beginning of career seemed to me a player who came from another planet even if he did not win.
Then he won a lot but I did not seem to come from another planet anymore.
Well put, KG.... I hadn't thought of his style as like a pinball machine, but yes, its a good analogy

Also agree about the changes in his playing style over the years.

Like a lovable, wild puppy that occasionally ruins your shoes or makes a mess in the wrong place... that turned into a majestic, perfectly trained dog

You'd probably prefer the second, but you can't help miss the fun times of the first
 
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KG1965

Legend
Well put, KG.... I hadn't thought of his style as like a pinball machine, but yes, its a good analogy

Also agree about the changes in his playing style over the years.

Like a lovable, wild puppy that occasionally ruins your shoes or makes a mess in the wrong place... that turned into a majestic, perfectly trained dog

You'd probably prefer the second, but you can't help miss the fun times of the first
The very young Andre is an icon character for me.
In jeans... blue jeans.:p:D:eek::-D:laughing:(y)

 

denoted

Rookie
I've seen on this thread that Agassi wasn't a great mover and that he didn't overpower opponents. My feeling is that he was incredibly fast and that he hit the ball as hard as anyone ever had at the time.
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
I've seen on this thread that Agassi wasn't a great mover and that he didn't overpower opponents. My feeling is that he was incredibly fast and that he hit the ball as hard as anyone ever had at the time.
Good points, denoted

I think the points your addressing are speaking relative to Agassi himself - the young, pre-Gilbert one and the one after that, not Agassi vs tennis players overall

My memory of pre-Gilbert was he just hammered the ball - the difference in power between him and his opponents made it look like a man playing a boy. He went for winners, he went for the lines - and made them often. Stunning stuff to watch, but of course, there'd be days when it all went wrong and he'd make too many errors playing in that fashion

Post-Gilbert, he still hit the ball at least as hard as anyone and harder than most - but the difference between him and the pack wasn't so great. He held back a little to cut back on making unforced errors by going for too much. He ran opponents around, tired them out, looked to draw/force errors - not slap winners right and left, not hit lines all the time

Regarding movement.... initially, he had stamina problems and after a certain point, would start swinging for the fences - maybe because he was tired. But since he was the one who was making people run - not the one running himself - maybe that gets remembered wrong. I agree, he was fast runner, but his footwork could be a bit slack. It seemed he didn't need footwork - he could hit from 'out of position' as well as most people could from in position

What took the eye was his ball striking, not his movement (unlike say, Hewitt or Nadal) - so maybe that biases the perception of his not being a good mover. Also, his chief rival Sampras was clearly a silkier mover... but that's not a fair basis of comparison. Also the end of career in the mid 2000s when he really was moving poorly.... but peak Agassi was a fast runner. Just didn't need to run much

Would be interested to hear your take on Agassi at different times in his career?
 

big ted

Hall of Fame
Regarding movement.... initially, he had stamina problems and after a certain point, would start swinging for the fences - maybe because he was tired
i remember that and he had a reputation for not being able to win a 5 set match until the '89 usopen match against connors
where people accused him of tanking sets so he could say he won a 5 set match...lol. back then the locker room talk how to
beat andre was to get it to a 5th set... this was when his diet was mcdonalds and dunkin donuts...lol
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
i remember that and he had a reputation for not being able to win a 5 set match until the '89 usopen match against connors
where people accused him of tanking sets so he could say he won a 5 set match...lol. back then the locker room talk how to
beat andre was to get it to a 5th set... this was when his diet was mcdonalds and dunkin donuts...lol
Andre was fast at times, but his footwork was a little dicey. He was ok side to side, not so good in the forecourt. Again, not that he was bad per se, but compared to a Borg or Connors, not quite as good. Andre had such fantastic ball striking ability, it compensated for it. However, there were times when I did not think he was such a great thinker in how he used the court...but he got better with age.
 
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