Sunday, December 23, 2012

Book Review: Open by Andre Agassi

On the jacket: 

From Andre Agassi, one of the most beloved athletes in history and one of the most gifted men ever to step onto a tennis court, a beautiful, haunting autobiography.

Agassi’s incredibly rigorous training begins when he is just a child. By the age of thirteen, he is banished to a Florida tennis camp that feels like a prison camp. Lonely, scared, a ninth-grade dropout, he rebels in ways that will soon make him a 1980s icon. He dyes his hair, pierces his ears, dresses like a punk rocker. By the time he turns pro at sixteen, his new look promises to change tennis forever, as does his lightning-fast return. 

And yet, despite his raw talent, he struggles early on. We feel his confusion as he loses to the world’s best, his greater confusion as he starts to win. After stumbling in three Grand Slam finals, Agassi shocks the world, and himself, by capturing the 1992 Wimbledon. Overnight he becomes a fan favorite and a media target.

Agassi brings a near-photographic memory to every pivotal match and every relationship. Never before has the inner game of tennis and the outer game of fame been so precisely limned. Alongside vivid portraits of rivals from several generations—Jimmy Connors, Pete Sampras, Roger Federer—Agassi gives unstinting accounts of his brief time with Barbra Streisand and his doomed marriage to Brooke Shields. He reveals a shattering loss of confidence. And he recounts his spectacular resurrection, a comeback climaxing with his epic run at the 1999 French Open and his march to become the oldest man ever ranked number one.

In clear, taut prose, Agassi evokes his loyal brother, his wise coach, his gentle trainer, all the people who help him regain his balance and find love at last with Stefanie Graf. Inspired by her quiet strength, he fights through crippling pain from a deteriorating spine to remain a dangerous opponent in the twenty-first and final year of his career. Entering his last tournament in 2006, he’s hailed for completing a stunning metamorphosis, from nonconformist to elder statesman, from dropout to education advocate. And still he’s not done. At a U.S. Open for the ages, he makes a courageous last stand, then delivers one of the most stirring farewells ever heard in a sporting arena.

With its breakneck tempo and raw candor, Open will be read and cherished for years. A treat for ardent fans, it will also captivate readers who know nothing about tennis. Like Agassi’s game, it sets a new standard for grace, style, speed, and power.


I enjoying watching Tennis because, my father used to. Later, my best friend did and now my husband does. Watching Tennis Grand Slams has become a natural way of life, year after year. I understand the game a bit, but more than following the rules, I enjoy the experience. what tops my bucket list is watching all the Grand Slams' final matches at least once!!

My father had spent more than half his life in Germany until before I was born and my ties with the country are very strong. My father wanted to name me Steffi, but he couldn't so he would call me Steffi. Agassi's, Becker's and Steffi's careers have been closely followed on our dinner table. Like my father, my husband too is a big fan of these legends. So getting Agassi's autobiography in hand was too tempting to resist. 

I got Open as one of the birthday gifts for my husband and the review I am about to write is his impression, not mine. I wanted a review on this book, but he refused to write saying I can write it better ... so here is the review, his views in my words!

Sankalp's review of Open:

Having finished reading Open last night, the first thought that came in my mind was, why did I read this so late? I am not much of a fiction reader, autobiographies are what always interest me. How someone like you and me, goes on to become extraordinary is always inspirational. Unlike stories woven from imagination, an autobiography gives me facts, problems and how a mere mortal faced them successfully. 

I have been following Tennis matches since as long as I can remember. I idolise some of the Tennis stalwarts and Agassi is one of them. Agassi's autobiography is not just about one man's life, it involves so many other facets! Apart from knowing the real person behind the image, it was interesting to know how he goofed up in life, in big decisions, in marriage and even in simple things like dating. Shows that behind the steel like grit, is a confused person. So, where does the grit come from? How was the book developed? 

Agassi is a very witty man, and all through the pages of Open, I would laugh out loud at his anecdotes. And after reading the book, I appreciate Agassi more as a person. There have been times when I wished I had more time, and could read more pages in a day.

Not just as a tennis lover, I would suggest everyone should read Open. The book is enjoyable, informative and inspirational.

Rating: *****/5

[This is a personal book review.]

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