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Andre Agassi praises Federer-Nadal rivalry

Tennis great Andre Agassi called the rivalry between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal "more compelling" than the one he had with Pete Sampras.

"Tennis is at an amazing time when you've got two of the best players ever to play the game. You can argue the two very best playing in the same generation," Agassi said Wednesday in Taiwan, where he will face Marat Safin in an exhibition tournament. "It's a rivalry I think that we've never seen in our sport."

Comparing it to his own rivalry with Sampras, Agassi was frank.

"It's more compelling," he said.

Agassi won eight major singles titles and completed a career Grand Slam, winning the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open. Sampras never won on clay at Roland Garros, but finished his career with a then-record 14 Grand Slam titles.

Until Federer and Nadal came along, the rivalry between the Americans was considered to be one of the best in history. But both Federer and Nadal have now completed career Grand Slams, and Federer has broken Sampras' record with 16 major titles.

Agassi also said the dominance of the top-ranked Nadal and No. 2 Federer was contributing to the struggles of American tennis. After dominating tennis with greats such as John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Sampras, Agassi, Michael Chang and Jim Courier, only Andy Roddick has been a threat in recent years.

Roddick won the 2003 U.S. Open and has lost to Federer in four Grand Slam finals.

"Federer and Nadal are the problem of American tennis," Agassi said. "I mean these guys are playing at a different level."

In 2011, Agassi said he expected Nadal to stay at the top of the game because the 24-year-old Spaniard is five years younger than Federer.

"I have a lot of respect for the (age) difference," Agassi said.