Andre Agassi is full of candour ... all the way from Las Vegas. He openly admits his wife, Steffi Graf, holds all the aces on court, and he is at his best when he plays doubles with her. Unfortunately, we won't be able to witness that next Sunday when Agassi turns up at the Venetian Macao Showdown, as Graf will be at home with their two children. Instead, Agassi will be up against long-time rival Pete Sampras in a meeting that will be pure fantasy for the purist, as well as a rare opportunity for the rest of us to watch two of the most celebrated legends clash once again. 'I always said playing tennis meant you have to watch the ball and that is the difficulty I have when I play against Steffi,' says Agassi. 'I don't have time to do that.' The pair were two of the most famous names in the game when they married in 2001. Time hasn't dulled the love-match. Asked by Nick Freyer, the Macau tournament director, who he would prefer as a doubles partner during the exhibition - two up-and-coming juniors, Yuki Bhambri of India and American Ryan Harrison - Agassi answered 'Steffi'. 'I hope you can talk my wife into coming. We play well together on court, and we play well together off court, too,' joked the eight-time grand slam winner during a telephone link-up this week. Agassi may need all the help he can get as a bad back, which led to his retirement in 2006, still plagues him, so much so that he revealed his preferred method of training these days is incline running. 'I have limitations with my back. I can't train the way I used to and these days I'm into incline running. It is a lot easier on my back,' Agassi said. 'And when I play, I don't try anything too hard too early. I try to ease into my game, otherwise a lot of things can seize up in my back.' At 39, playing tennis is not a priority anymore. His wife and family come first, followed by his foundation - to help under-privileged children in the US by giving them an education. But he is savouring the Macau showdown against Sampras. It has been a long time since the pair met on court, and off it as well. The last time Agassi saw Sampras across the net was in the 2002 US Open when he lost an epic encounter - the last of many between the pair - in four thrilling sets. 'That was the last time I played Pete. The last time I met him was a couple of years later when I invited him to a charity event and we had a nice time there. I'm really looking forward to seeing him again, and playing him,' Agassi said. Agassi is a classic baseliner who many believed had the best return of serve in the game. His opponent at the CotaiArena on Sunday prefers to serve and volley. In a long and distinguished rivalry, the pair have served up fantastic contests, with Sampras ending with a 20-14 record, including a 4-1 advantage in grand slam finals. The Las Vegas showman said it was the contrasting styles of play between him and Sampras in their hey-day that intoxicated fans. 'We played the game so differently. We had two styles, so opposite to each other, and two personalities so opposite to each other. That was what made the rivalry so great and it was good for the game,' Agassi said. 'He has played such an important part in my career and we have so much history together. But if you ask me if I miss anything about his game, then I have to say 'no' because, unfortunately, he has caused me a lot of pain,' Agassi laughed. Having stepped away in 2006 from the professional circuit to which he gave two decades of his life, Agassi owns up to not being up to speed on the goings-on in the ATP circuit. But he is firmly behind the current crop of players - among them fellow American Andy Roddick - who are lobbying for a shorter season. 'I always thought the best thing for tennis would be to give a schedule for the players and to have a longer off-season,' Agassi said. 'This is not only healthy for the players, but also for the fans as anticipation can build up during a longer off-season.' Roddick's injury-enforced withdrawal from the Shanghai Masters this week has illustrated complaints from the players about the relentless demands on the world's best players. World number one Roger Federer and Andy Murray also missed Shanghai and the Japan Open last week owing to fatigue and injury respectively. Stanislas Wawrinka and Gael Monfils became the sixth and seventh players to retire injured at the tournament. Agassi called for the players and the ATP Tour to work out their differences amicably. 'The global nature of sport presents a lot of challenges but the tour should tighten up its schedule and they should talk to the players rather than everybody fighting against each other,' Agassi said. One of only six players to have won all four grand slam singles titles, and the only male player to have won a career Grand Slam (all four plus an Olympic gold medal) Agassi is quite matter-of-fact when asked why tennis in the US is lacking a champion of his, or Sampras', quality. 'It's a very competitive global sport. In America, we have to figure out how to get the racquet into the hands of children,' said Agassi, conceding that other big sports like basketball, baseball and others competed and stole talent. 'Other countries around the world are pouring so much energy and resources into the grass roots, and the game is more accessible for young players in other parts of the world, France for instance. 'But there is no excuse. I also believe that things go around in cycles. We have been blessed in the US with talent and I think the day will come again when we have a champion,' he said. When he played, the great rivalry was against Sampras. Today, it is between Federer and Rafael Nadal. But Agassi believes the next generation of players - Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Juan Martin del Potro - are now ready to replace them. 'These guys have the skill and talent to take over from Nadal and Federer who is now in his late 20s.' Nadal has struggled with injuries since his shock exit in the fourth round of the French Open. Federer won the French and Wimbledon opens, breaking Sampras' record of 14 grand slams, but was beaten in the US Open final by 21-year-old Argentine del Potro. Agassi picked Murray as the next best thing in tennis and predicted 2010 as a turning point for the Scot. 'On talent alone, I think Murray should win multiple grand slams. But to have the game is one thing, to have the mind is something else,' said Agassi, highlighting the Scot's firebrand nature which quite often works against him.