Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras: The 1990s Version of Federer and Nadal

Mark Eckhart Jr.Correspondent INovember 4, 2008

Agassi. Sampras.

These two names alone signify greatness in the tennis world. Put these two giants on the court together on some of the sport's biggest stages, and you have what many saw as the rivalry of the 1990s.

These two men have a combined 22 men's Grand Slam singles championships. Andre Agassi has eight, and Pete Sampras has a record 14, including seven at Wimbledon.

Several of these Grand Slams were won by one of these men beating the other one, and that made the battles that much more compelling.

These men met a total of 34 times in their illustrious careers, with Sampras winning 20. They met five times in Grand Slam finals, and in 16 finals overall. Sampras won four of the five Slam meetings and nine of the 16 finals.

The rivalry spanned 13 years from their first match in Rome back in 1989, to their last match in 2002 at Flushing Meadows, where Sampras beat Agassi in the final.

These two men were always so competitive against each other, it was like they were staring themselves down across the court. Sampras enjoyed the edge head-to-head for the majority of the rivalry, but through the first 16 matches, neither man enjoyed more than a two-win advantage over the other.

Both men had their struggles at Roland Garros with Sampras going 24-13 in his career, and Agassi going 51-16. For both men, the French was their worst Slam statistically.

However, Sampras dominated at Wimbledon, winning an astonishing 90 percent of his matches there, including his seven championships. Agassi in turn dominated down under at Rod Laver Arena, winning 90.57 percent of his matches with a 48-5 record and three championships. 

To go along with their Grand Slam success, both men won over 60 titles spanning over Slams, Masters Cup, Davis Cup, World Championships, and the Olympics were enjoyed solely by Agassi. These two men were able to dominate their sport unlike anybody that we've ever seen step foot onto a tennis court.

Until recently.

Let me introduce to you Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, the current version of the Agassi-Sampras rivalry.

Federer and Nadal have redesigned the way that the game is played with their brilliant shot making, pure domination, and oh yeah...there's something about these two when they play each other. That something creates the greatest tennis we are treated to enjoying from our living rooms.

These two men are the greatest rivalry in any sport because they bring out the absolute best in each other, and just when we think that one has the other on the run, they rip a forehand winner to silence our doubts.

They are just getting warmed up in their rivalry, and once it gets heated, I can't wait to see the quality of tennis we will see every time they hit the court.

This rivalry though has been dominated by Nadal, unlike the Agassi-Sampras rivalry where it was fairly even through their careers. Nadal holds a 12-6 edge, has unseeded Federer as the world No.1, and taken away his run of consecutive championship at Wimbledon.

You can believe that Federer wants those things back, and will stop at nothing until he retains them.

Call it what you will, but Federer-Nadal is the best thing since Agassi-Sampras.