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From Andre Agassi, one of the most beloved athletes in history and one of the most gifted men ever to step onto a tennis court, a beautiful, haunting autobiography.
Agassi’s incredibly rigorous training begins when he is just a child. By the age of thirteen, he is banished to a Florida tennis camp that feels like a prison camp. Lonely, scared, a ninth-grade dropout, he rebels in ways that will soon make him a 1980s icon. He dyes his hair, pierces his ears, dresses like a punk rocker. By the time he turns pro at sixteen, his new look promises to change tennis forever, as does his lightning-fast return.
And yet, despite his raw talent, he struggles early on. We feel his confusion as he loses to the world’s best, his greater confusion as he starts to win. After stumbling in three Grand Slam finals, Agassi shocks the world, and himself, by capturing the 1992 Wimbledon. Overnight he becomes a fan favorite and a media target.
Agassi brings a near-photographic memory to every pivotal match and every relationship. Never before has the inner game of tennis and the outer game of fame been so precisely limned. Alongside vivid portraits of rivals from several generations—Jimmy Connors, Pete Sampras, Roger Federer—Agassi gives unstinting accounts of his brief time with Barbra Streisand and his doomed marriage to Brooke Shields. He reveals a shattering loss of confidence. And he recounts his spectacular resurrection, a comeback climaxing with his epic run at the 1999 French Open and his march to become the oldest man ever ranked number one.
In clear, taut prose, Agassi evokes his loyal brother, his wise coach, his gentle trainer, all the people who help him regain his balance and find love at last with Stefanie Graf. Inspired by her quiet strength, he fights through crippling pain from a deteriorating spine to remain a dangerous opponent in the twenty-first and final year of his career. Entering his last tournament in 2006, he’s hailed for completing a stunning metamorphosis, from nonconformist to elder statesman, from dropout to education advocate. And still he’s not done. At a U.S. Open for the ages, he makes a courageous last stand, then delivers one of the most stirring farewells ever heard in a sporting arena.
With its breakneck tempo and raw candor, Open will be read and cherished for years. A treat for ardent fans, it will also captivate readers who know nothing about tennis. Like Agassi’s game, it sets a new standard for grace, style, speed, and power.
“Probably the most candid sports autobiography ever written. . . . This book succeeds because Agassi refuses to wear the mask of the happy warrior. We see his wounds. There is nothing maudlin standing in the way of self-disclosure. There are no clichés. . . . Agassi, like Tiger Woods, is no idol. The difference is that Agassi voluntarily stepped down from the pedestal to provide us with a generous portion of introspection in this remarkably real, tell-it-like-it-is, record-breaking read.” —Nancy Isenberg, The [Baton Rouge] Advocate
“Bracingly devoid of triumphalist homily, Agassi’s is one of the most passionately anti-sports books ever written by a superstar athlete.” —The New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2009
“Enigmatic tennis great Agassi lays it all on the line. . . . [A] beefy confession . . . Powerful . . . Agassi’s photographic recall of pivotal matches evokes the raw intensity of watching them from the stands. Lovers of the sport will also appreciate this window into the mind of a champion . . . An ace of a tale about how one man found his game.” —Kirkus
“Refreshingly candid . . . This lively, revealing, and entertaining book is certain to roil the tennis world and make a big splash beyond.”
“Consummate. . . . Lively. . . . Somebody on the memoir team has great gifts for heart-tugging drama. And through some combination of Mr. Agassi’s keen memory and Mr. Moehringer’s narrative skills, Open is cleverly bookended by two all-important tennis matches. . . . [With] dynamic, writerly flourishes.” —Janet Maslin, The New York Times
“Open describes [Agassi’s] personal odyssey with brio and unvarnished candor. . . . [A] fascinating life . . . His career-comeback tale is inspiring but even more so is another Open storyline. It could be called: The punk grows up . . . Countless athletes start charitable foundations, but frequently the organizations are just tax shelters or PR students. For Mr. Agassi helping others has instead become his life’s calling. . . . Open is a superb memoir, but it hardly closes the books on an extraordinary life.” —Jay Winik, The Wall Street Journal
“It’s both astonishing and a pleasure to report that Andre Agassi . . . has produced an honest, substantive, insightful autobiography. . . . The bulk of this extraordinary book vividly recounts a lost childhood, a Dickensian adolescence, and a chaotic struggle in adulthood to establish an identity . . . While not without excitement, Agassi’s comeback to No. 1 is less uplifting than his sheer survival, his emotional resilience, and his good humor in the face of the luckless cards he was often dealt.” —Michael Mewshaw, Washington Post
“Andre Agassi’s memoir is just as entrancing as his tennis game. . . . By sharing an unvarnished, at times inspiring story in an arresting, muscular style, Agassi may have just penned one of the best sports autobiographies of all time. Check—it’s one of the better memoirs out there, period.” —Sean Gregory, Time
“A vivid portrait of the internal battle faced in some measure by every athlete.” —David M. Shribman Bloomberg.com
“Hard-won self-knowledge irradiates almost every page of Open. . . . Not just a first-rate sports memoir but a genuine bildungsroman, darkly funny yet also anguished and soulful. It confirms what Agassi’s admirers sensed from the outset, that this showboat. . . . was not clamoring for attention but rather conducting a struggle to wrest some semblance of selfhood from the sport that threatened to devour him.” —Sam Tanenhaus, The New York Times Book Review
“Honest in a way that such books seldom are. . . . An uncommonly well-written sports memoir.” —Charles McGrath, The New York Times
“Articulate. . . . Expertly rendered.” —The Morning News (Boston)
“Much more than a drug confession—Agassi weaves a fascinating tale of professional tennis and personal adversity. . . . His tale shows that success is measured both on and off the court.” —Doree Shafrir, New York Post
“Insightful [and] exceedingly well-written. . . . [Open] has the cadence and plotting of a good novel . . . The raw energy and emotion throughout are pure Agassi.” —Newsday Top 10 Books of 2009
“What makes Open one of the most compelling sports autobiographies is the introspection Agassi . . . brings to his painful past.” —Teddy Wayne, Time