Four-time Australian Open champion Andre Agassi says Novak Djokovic has the chance this year to elevate himself to among possibly the best three tennis players of all time.
Agassi arrived in Australia yesterday and immediately installed Djokovic favourite to land a historic Open men's hat-trick tomorrow after the Serb demolished world No 4 David Ferrer 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 in the first semifinal.
With Djokovic awaiting the victor of last night's second semifinal between second seed Roger Federer and third seed Andy Murray - the winners of the past two Grand Slam titles - Agassi said the world No 1 had an obvious edge over his rivals.
"If there's three (standout) guys, I always tend to favour the guy who doesn't have to beat two of them," said Agassi, on his first visit to Australia since 2005.
Should Djokovic collect a fourth Open crown and take his Grand Slam tally to six during an era previously dominated by tennis titans Federer and Rafael Nadal, Agassi said the 25-year-old would be on his way to genuine greatness.
"I think we're living in what history will say is the golden age of tennis," said the American former world No 1. "I mean, you're not guaranteed a rivalry in sports, no matter how good you are."
Let alone such a rare three-way rivalry - and now four with Andy Murray breaking through at last year's US Open.
Agassi noted that in generations past the sport enjoyed special two-man rivalries including his own with Pete Sampras in the 1990s and early 2000s and when Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe reigned in the 70s and 80s.
"(Jimmy) Connors was involved in that equation and that's kind of the closest time where we've ever had what we're staring at now - and even that didn't really live up to what we're seeing in front of our eyes," Agassi said.
"We're talking about three guys that you could really make the argument have raised the standard of the game and potentially you have three guys that could be argued as the best of all time, pending Djokovic's upcoming year.
"You're looking at Federer, Nadal and Djokovic. So if he (Djokovic) could put together his best tennis at the right time this year, you're talking about three of the greats in one generation. It's remarkable.
"And certainly Murray is on the front end of a lot more accomplishments. He has obviously got longer to go to be in that discussion, but to break during a time when you have these three sort of suggests that he is going to have his time as well.
"So I think it's remarkable. But the game always improves when you think it can't, and it has.
"They've raised the standard."