Excerpts from Open: An Autobiography by Andre Agassi
"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 became 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 darkest. It's our choice."
"How lovely it is to dream while you are awake. Dream while you're awake, Andre. Anybody can dream while they're asleep, but you need to dream all the time, and say your dreams out loud, and believe in them."
"I'm on Becker's side of the draw. If everything goes according to Brad's plan, I'll face Becker in the semis. Then, Pete. I think: If only, when we're born, we could look over our draw in life, project our path to the final."
"After dinner Mandela stands and gives a stirring talk. His theme: we must all care for one another - this is our task in life. But also we must care for ourselves, which means we must be careful in our decisions, careful in our relationships, careful in our statements. We must manage our lives carefully, in order to avoid becoming victims. I feel as if he's speaking directly to me, as if he's aware that I've been careless with my talent and my health."
"I'm in the round of sixteen at the French Open for the first time since 1995. My reward is Carlos Moyá, the defending champion.
Not to worry, Brad says. Even though Moyá's the champ, and real good on the dirt, you can take away his time. You can bull-rush him, stand inside the baseline, hit the ball early and apply pressure. Go after his backhand, but if you have to bring it to his forehand, do it with purpose, with heat. Don't just go there - drive it hard up Main Street. Make him feel you.
In the first set, it's me feeling Moyá. I lose the set fast. In the second set I fall down two breaks. I'm not playing my game. I'm not doing anything Brad said to do. I look up to my box and Brad screams: Come on! Let's go!
Back to basics. I make Moyá run. And run. I establish a sadistic rhythm, chanting to myself: Run, Moyá, run. I make him run laps. I make him run the Boston Marathon. I win the second set, and the crowd is cheering. In the third set I run Moyá more than I've run the last three opponents combined, and suddenly, all at once, he's cooked. He wants no part of this. He didn't sign on for anything like this."
I loved this book. I think it'll became one of my faves, and its probably the one of the best autobiographies I've read so far.
There were moments I really enjoyed and that made me laugh. Primarily Agassi's crush on Steffi Graf and his courtship of her, and how he and his team would talk about her day and night and help him strategize. It was great fun to read.
It's also clear that Andre has very loyal people around him. And that Andre is so very, very human. One of the best athletes in the world in his time yes, but very human.
I can get very inspired by athletes, primarily by tennis players. When I watch them play, I understand that they got to where they are through pure hard work and dedication. Day in, day out, year after year after year, they keep at it. They have to condition their body and mind constantly. They inspire to get my head straight and put the work in that I need to do for my own craft.
What I like most about Agassi, and also about my fave player, Andy Murray, is that both have been through so many mental struggles, and they survived, and thrived even. Their struggles affect their game. But they were able to fight through and succeed. Murray is at a similar place to where Agassi was before he started winning slams again. I hope Andy, like Andre, is also able to pull through and claim trophies again.
If you're a tennis fan, read Open.