on November 18, 2009
To quote George Vecsey of the New York Times "the lesson is that sometimes people are vastly more complex than we think, and capable of great growth and change". Agassi made me a tennis fan. I was drawn in by the intensity of his emotions, how clearly you could see exactly what he was feeling--the opposite of "poker face". The extreme ups and downs. I enjoyed learning more about his dramatic struggles with his demons. And the people who helped him overcome them, to become "a Zen master". A well-written very enjoyable read.
on January 12, 2010
I had two novels on the go and a pile of Christmas gift books waiting, but after reading the first few pages of Agassi's memoir I put the others aside to finish "Open".
The first strength that I noticed is the precision, economy, quality of the writing. There's no mention of a ghost writer, and Agassi admits that he left school in grade nine, so he has drawn upon his intelligence, keen powers of observation, and natural fluency as a storyteller to make "Open" a finely-detailed, literate, and compelling read.
The book also delivers honest insights into the fascinating and, at times, bizarre world of tennis at the top level. Particularly interesting were the glimpses he provides into the personalities of the many tennis greats he battled on the court, and a few others he encountered who were either too young or too old to play him during his career.
Along with his success in eventually overcoming a harrowing childhood as a tennis prodigy dominated by an overbearing father, what will stay with me longest from this book is Agassi's revealing descriptions of how a fit, ideally-prepared athlete can inexplicably lose to a lesser opponent on a given day, and how an injured or hung-over competitor can beat a higher-ranked adversary on another day.
These accounts reminded me that regardless of the sport in question, elite and amateur athletes are human, and subject to all the inconsistentcies, negative self-talk, and self-defeating behaviours that the rest of us must face and try to overcome in whatever we do. The difficulty for tennis players is that the court offers absolutely no place to hide when a match is going badly, and no teammates with whom to share the blame for an ugly loss.
I recommend "Open" as an unusually well-written and revealing sports autobiography.
Right from the first page when Andre Agassi describes the scary dragon tennis ball machine his father constructed for him, you'll be hooked. It must of took tremendous guts for Agassi to reveal pretty much all that is in this book. On the one hand he reiterates that he "hates" tennis but on the other he has enough willpower to keep playing despite the physical and mental tools especially when he falls so far off the computer rankings and ends up on the Challenger (think minor leagues of the tennis tour) circuit to try to claw his way back up the rankings.
I enjoyed learning about his off-the-court crew and his two high-profile romances (with ex-wife Brooke Shields and current wife Steffi Graf). Be prepared to learn a lot of the inner turmoil and triumph on those scores.
Mainly, though, it's a great book to learn about how the tennis tours (both men and women's) operate. I had to laugh at his coach Brad Gilbert and Bud Ice being his beer of choice. Given he was a former pro and traveled the world, this is the beer he appreciates the most? I love Gilbert, especially now as a tennis commentator on TV, but that and Agassi's love of fast food seem to sum up the "uncultured" aspect of tennis at the ground level. It really is a sport, although international in nature, is one of the hard working classes...and, boy, did Agassi work at it.
The book will blow your socks off especially about characters like Nick Bolliteri who runs a famous Florida tennis school ("prison" according to Agassi) or the tipping habits of Pete Sampras. There's much more both good and bad on players such as Tarango, Baghdatis, Becker, Rafter, etc.
The weird thing that comes out is Agassi's love of Davis Cup and his wanting to be part of a team you have to wonder why he never gave doubles also a shot like, say, the Aussies of the past who played both singles and doubles. I would have thought, despite the modern tour schedule, he'd have enjoyed his life on tour much better if only he dabbled with doubles a bit.
I have owned this book for years and it wasn't until a friend asked for book donations for charity, that I took it down from the shelf to donate without reading it. But I snuck a peak inside and wow! I was hooked. This was NOT donated.
Before this book, all I ever knew about Andre Agassi was that he was an elite champion athlete, was married to Brooke Shields for a short time, and then married Stefanie Graf. Whenever I heard him interviewed on TV after a tennis match, he sounded intelligent, young, sweet and innocent, even though he was ruthless, tactical and unstoppable on court.
I had no idea what an inspiring, amazing, thoughtful, humble, determined man, Andre Agassi is. Oh, and romantic. I really enjoyed reading about his courtship of Stefanie Graf.
What a well written book. It is fascinating, enlightening, heart-breaking, heart-warming, and loving. Andre and Stefanie Agassi have learned from their own and their parents' mistakes. In their 'retirement' they now focus more on a positive way of raising and educating their own, and hundreds of children in their inspirational school. Andre and Stefanie are finally doing what they are far more passionate about than tennis.
Tennis is gruelling, punishing, all consuming and humbling. The physical and mental punishment taken by Andre's body throughout his tennis career is painful to read about. The mental pressure is extreme. To be fair, he observes this equal suffering in some of his opponents on the tennis court. And he never says: 'Poor me.' His relationships, whether positive or ending disappointingly, are painted with a respectful brush, acknowledging that it is all part of life.
Life's experiences are not wasted on this man. He converts his learning into a philosophical wisdom and forward thinking about life and the future of children. He puts his star power and positive beliefs back into his school's children ' a brilliant investment.
This book lives up to its name. It is honest and open. Andre has courage to write an autobiography this way.
I loved reading about his devotion for Stefanie Agassi. His worship of her appeals to the romantic in me.
A scene he describes in the book, however, that will never leave me is a moment in time after one of his final matches. He and Marcos Baghdatis are lying on massage beds side by side. A little gesture, with enormous meaning, by both of them leaves me with happy tears when I think about it. True sportsmanship. Love and respect for a fellow combatant. That scene is magic.
This book is fantastic, and I highly recommend it for an uplifting, inspiring read. It is back on my shelf. It's a keeper. The last few chapters will inspire me in tough times. I love his arguments about forming and transforming. He is right.
Blessed are the people who have Andre and Stefanie Agassi for friends.
on December 25, 2009
1. Because Andre has angst (he has always hated tennis, since the very beginning - see point 4), and angst is interesting. Agassi doesn't ever skimp on the fast food binging, drug doing, getting love wronging details;
2. Because at heart this is a love story. And Andre, for wife and the school he set up for underprivileged kids, has a hell of a big heart;
3. Because like in any great book (fiction or non) you CARE about the characters. And really, who gives a crap about a meat-head musclebound trainer named Gil? Me. You fall in love with Andre Agassi's physical trainer the way you fall in love with Mickey, Rocky Balboa's trainer. Hint: it has to do with loyalty;
4. Because Andre's father is your worst nightmare of the athlete parent bastard breed and 'father was a bastard' stories are interesting, especially when Daddy was this callous, selfish, wrong, complicated. 'Father was a bastard' stories are even better when son of said bastard becomes a world champion tennis player and not a bastard himself; and
5. Because the book is aptly titled. Andre gives every Brooke Shields-doubting-the-marriage (even while making the proposal) details. His gives of all the details, tells the stories you'd want to hear. Anecdotes like this one:
Agassi and his coach, Brad Gilbert, are having dinner at a favourite Italian restaurant after a match. By chance, Pete Sampras and his entourage are also at the restaurant, on the other side. As Pete leaves he comes by to say hi to Andre and Brad. After he goes, Brad tells Andre he'll bet him anything Pete didn't leave more than 5 bucks to the valet parking guy. Andre isn't as keen on finding out but Brad pushes and asks the teenager valet how much Pete gave him. The kid looks down, wants to do the right thing, doesn't want to tell. Brad pushes.
One dollar, the kid says. Pete Sampras gave the kid a dollar.
Commenting on this, Andre says, there is a world of difference between him and Pete.
on April 17, 2011
I ordered this book through amazon, simply because they have the best pricing on books compared to the local book store. The item arrived within 2 days (just like every other order).
About the book: The very first chapter brings you straight into Agassi's life which we all are aware of ... a tennis match. It is a very well written book which talks about a person who we all think is die-hard, dedicated tennis player, who lives to play tennis, but what this autobiography does is that it OPENS up the life of a man who is so disturbed and confused on the inside. It talks about all the aspects of life, a journey which involves friendship, romance, dedication, determination and rebellion.
on July 26, 2012
Not only does Agassi give us a peek inside the professional tennis world, he is brutally honest about his epic struggle to find meaning in his life as a tennis prodigy who hates tennis. The one red thread throughout the story is his deep down feeling that there must be more to life than what he's currently going through, and that's the one thing he never gives up on. And guess what, he recognizes it when it presents itself. The book is full of metaphors. I loved every one of them. A real page-turner.
on March 31, 2015
Before this book, I didn’t know much about Andre Agassi, except that he was half Persian, was very good at tennis and married Brook Shields back in the 90’s.
This book caught me by surprise early on as he mentions he hated tennis growing up. Super entertaining sports biography. Tennis is an intensely psychologically tough sport. I love watching it, but reading about the emotional swings from a world class pro is another thing.
How he courted Steffi Graf was also super great! what a player ;)
on July 7, 2011
A really great read which gives you a window into professional tennis and what some champions endure and pay to reach the number one position. Open and honest, you'll want to search the internet to see how André is doing as he continues his search for excellence outside the world of tennis. After reading his story, you'll be cheering for him even more than when he was playing tennis.
on November 29, 2010
A very well written book. The little I know about tennis was enough for me to understand the jist of any of Aggassi's tennis stories. All that he endured from early childhood until he meets the love of his life with his rollercoaster tennis career woven throughout makes this a good read. Tennis fan or not, you won't be disappointed.