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ANDRE AGASSI – OPEN

September 6, 2010
When you buy an autobiography of a famous person who has single handedly re-written the fashion codes in a sport, followed on the legacy of another legend in the sport in being the arrogant champion, you expect the book to relive these controversies. The refusal to play Wimbledon because of the white dress code, fancy hairstyles and denim shorts on a tennis court with an all pink outfit in the US Open. You expect the book to be as vibrant and abnormal as the personality on the court but it is not.

On the contrary few autobiographies strike a chord of harmony like OPEN. Unlike Snowball or Losing my Virginity, it does not mention a perfect childhood with the kid behaving as the normal role model. It is not about smoking marijuana and doing business or flying in a private jet across the world to make a deal. Some will be exaggerated with incidents popular and coveted by the audience, public or readers in general to boost the sales. There will be incidents advertised on the release of the book to boost the sales and other smaller ones.

Few autobiographies will be as sweet and personal as OPEN by Andre Agassi.

It is about a normal middle class kid who is doing as told to him by his father against his will. He does not love doing it but he does it. As a rebel, he does really normal things that you and I would do to express our hatred for the task. Hitting the ball out of the park and keeping fancy haircuts etc.

The word prodigy is associated with him when he is seven but he has no idea about it’s meaning. For him, it means more pressure and nothing else. It increases the pressure of his first loss and his unwillingness to accept it. Gradually he grows on to hate the sport.

Little does he realize Tennis is the only thing he can do in life and so he is stuck with it forever. He scales heights and makes records which none made in the open era until the greatest descended on the court towards the end of Agassi’s career.

The flawed punk’s marriage to Steffi Graf, the greatest ever women with the perfect game to have played the game and his rivalry with the greatest of his time Pete Sampras are touched upon in the book. It was disappointing for a tennis fan to read more about the romance than the rivalry for it is the second biggest rivalry in modern tennis after Nadal-Federer. (Personally I was expecting more on that.)

Living the image of the flawed genius in the book is what makes it way above the other autobiographies. ‘He is a punk, you are a legend’ was what a reporter told McEnroe before his match with Andre Agassi when the latter was starting his way to greatness. It is this punkness expressed in the book that depicts the honesty and flaw in his personality.

Even ‘My Experiments with Truth’ or ‘A Long Walk to Freedom’ do not have this flaw in them. The lacking of this flaw in those books places Gandhi and Mandela in a class apart. This makes us believe they have a different world to reside where we will never descend but OPEN has all the characters and tinges of these flaw that personalize a book to a layman and common person like us.

For every sports fan it is a must read. It is one of the few books besides Maradona’s ‘El Diego’ that reveals the hard work and dedication an athlete puts in for all the criticism and rebuke they receive from the media on not performing. The cortisone injection, the training and all the various other inputs are some of the major inputs that give you a Nike sponsor and a private jet.

Usually every book has the cliché on the back, A page turner, you will not want to keep the book down once you start and blah, blah, blah. But for this book it is a fact. Any sports fan would not put it down.

He outs his life in the book as he played his game on the court. Maybe a bit partial I sound but then I was an Agassi fan.

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