Saturday, 29 January 2011

OPEN: An Autobiography by Andre Agassi

This is one of the most unexpected reading pleasures I have ever had. Agassi is not at all who you think he is. On court he seemed to me to express little emotion – very little of that curled fist punching stuff – but he is revealed here as passionate, intelligent, without self-pity, occasionally dishonest, stubborn, fragile, sometimes sentimental in that old American way, romantic, generous and loyal. This is quite a trick to pull off, to make yourself attractive, to make yourself a hero without appearing vain.

The book combines its themes - the private and the public, the tennis playing and the tennis-hating, friendships and rivalries – in a perfect weave, the anecdotes sliding effortlessly into one another. To be corny: like a tennis match the book is made up of points which add up to games, which turn into sets. It undulates forwards towards happiness.

I defy anyone to read this without spending a couple of hours on YouTube afterwards, watching Agassi’s short pigeon-toed strides about a tennis court, perhaps reflecting that we didn’t really know who we were watching first time round.

I’d better warn you, too, that if you have lachrymose tendencies they are likely to be brought to the fore.

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