OPEN - an Autobiography by Andre Agassi

Few days ago i came across an article in TOI, it was about the favourite books of some cricketers. There i noticed a book which was liked by Virat Kohli and Shane Watson. I had seen this book in bookstores earlier but went against buying it. This time i thought, i’ll buy it, and i bought : OPEN – an autobiography by Andre Agassi.

For people of my generation tennis means Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. As much as their rivalry is famous in this era, the nineties saw the rivalry among Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi. Sampras, greater of the 2 players retired earlier. Agassi retired in 2006 winning 3 of his 8 grand slams after the year 2000. He has the 2nd most number of career ATP Masters Series Titles at 17.  I have seen Agassi playing and the fact that he is married to the greatest women’s singles tennis player of all time Steffi Graph, drew me further into reading this one.

The first thing which caught my attention was the cover of the book. It has just the face of Agassi staring at you, but something was there in that expression and the eyes, some sort of misery, honesty and pain – which made me look at the picture again and again. Moving on from this narcissistic theory, i read the first chapter titled THE END. Those 20 pages left me spellbound and i knew that a fantastic read is in store for me. Not surprisingly, the last chapter is titled THE BEGINNING. And in between you have Agassi’s life revolving around training, tournaments, Grand Slams, rivalries, relationships, marriages and soul-searching.

Why i loved this book when i’m not a big tennis fan? Because throughout the book he describes his thoughts and feelings going through his mind so unbelievably well, that you will feel as if you are there in his place. And it is very interesting to read what is happening inside someone’s mind at a particular moment. I’m awed by the details of the things going in his mind specially during the matches. I wish and fear at the same time, if i could ever do that myself i.e. writing my thoughts out such vividly and honestly.

This is not a review because reviews are supposed to be neutral. When i like something, i get very biased so i am only sharing what i think of the book. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND it for its brutal honesty and the amazing style with which it is written.

Here are some quotes from the book:

“I play tennis for a living, even though I hate tennis, hate it with a dark and secret passion, and always have.

“A win doesn't feel as good as a loss feels bad, and the good feeling doesn't last as long as the bad. Not even close.

“It’s no accident, I think, that tennis uses the language of life. Advantage, service, fault, break, love, the basic elements of tennis are those of everyday existence, because every match is a life in miniature. Even the structure of tennis, the way the pieces fit inside one another like Russian nesting dolls, mimics the structure of our days. Points become games become sets become tournaments, and it’s all so tightly connected that any point can become the turning point. It reminds me of the way seconds become minutes become hours, and any hour can be our finest. Or our darkest. It’s our choice.

“One thing I’ve learned in twenty-nine years of playing tennis: Life will throw everything but the kitchen sink in your path, and then it will throw the kitchen sink. It’s your job to avoid the obstacles. If you let them stop you or distract you, you’re not doing your job, and failing to do your job will cause regrets that paralyze you more than a bad back.

“Of all the games men and women play, tennis is the closest to solitary confinement, which inevitably leads to self-talk, and for me the self-talk starts here in the afternoon shower. This is when I begin to say things to myself, crazy things, over and over, until I believe them. I’ve won 869 matches in my career, 5th on the all-time list, and many of them were won during the afternoon shower.

“What you feel doesn’t matter in the end; it’s what you do that makes you brave.”

“This is why we’re here. To fight through the pain and, when possible, to relieve the pain of others. So simple. So hard to see.”

“The scoreboard said I lost today, but what the scoreboard doesn't say is what it is I have found. And over the last 21 years, I have found loyalty. You have pulled for me on the court and also in life. I've found inspiration. You have willed me to succeed sometimes even in my lowest moments. And I've found generosity. You have given me your shoulders to stand on to reach for my dreams, dreams I could have never reached without you. Over the last 21 years, I have found you. And I will take you and the memory of you with me for the rest of my life. Thank you.” (farewell speech he gave at the 2006 US Open)


aakhir KAB tak?? said...

I dint know someone on earth would have had da inclination to read a book on Andre except fr a die-hard tennis fan which I dnt think u after reading da review it surely seems ;it was all worth it!! gud one

Aha!DITYA said...

worth a read maam...worth a read!!