When his autobiography, Open, was released, all anyone could speak of were his revelations about snorting crystal meth and lying about it to the ATP - I did not want to waste precious time reading what I was sure would be the self indulgent story of a former tennis brat. Then a friend told me that it was one of the most honest accounts of a man's life that she had read, and I decided to give the book a try.
And I am glad I did.
The books is ghost-written by a genuinely good writer, who knows exactly how to play with the emotions of the reader. With a mix of candour and humour, the book makes you relive the memories of the flawed genius. You are forced to acknowledge the drive that made him repeatedly bounce back after being written off, and you cannot help nodding at many of the observations, even as you wonder how it is that the man has good things to say about so few people.
Fundamentally, I just cannot understand his repeated declaration that he absolutely hates the game. How can anyone put in such supreme effort into something they hate? And why? Is it worth defining your life by something you are not passionate about?
But at the same time, you have to admire the man for the choices he makes. Written off more often than practically any other tennis player, he could have retired, gracefully or otherwise, dozens of times - yet, each time he was written off, he came back a stronger and better player than he was before. That the man won more Grand Slams after the age of 29 than he did before tells its own story. That most of his later matches were played against opponents who were still in their diapers when he turned pro only underlines the fact that whether you love him or hate him, you have to admire him.
There is a lot about the man that I do not like after reading the book. There is a lot more of the man that I just do not understand. But I am glad I read the book, because there is a lot that you have to admire the man for, and I would not have known about any of it had I not picked the book up.
And of course, I have to admire any man who puts in as much effort into bringing into existance a school for disadvantaged children in his home town. That the apparent rebel that was Andre Agassi insists on school uniforms for his kids shows how far the man has come.
Love the man or hate him, the book is definitely worth a read.