I was first drawn to this book after Andre Agassi was interviewed by Jonathan Ross and it became apparent that this was a man who had struggled with some demons over his brilliant and long tennis career. I was hoping it would be a book which allowed you to ‘get inside’ the psyche of a celebrated sportsman and perhaps bring alive many of the notions which Tim Gallway first wrote about in his book The Inner Game of Tennis. I was not disappointed.
Throughout the weighty volume, Agassi bears all. It is a story of an unhappy child who was forced to spend every day relentlessly hitting returns of serve for fear of retribution from his tennis-obsessed father. It is the story of an adolescent struggling to find his own identity and purpose whilst having the media spotlight thrust upon him. It is the story of a sportsman who hated his sport, who struggled with his self-talk in virtually every match and who, for much of his career, lacked direction.
We learn about how the search for perfection (instilled by his father no doubt) became so much of a distraction in his game that he failed time and time again. We see a man learn about the importance of flow, of letting go and just playing in order to allow his natural talent succeed. We hear about a man who finds his direction, his cause, his reason for being and how he uses this to power himself through to winning despite the odds.
A real page-turner and a fascinating insight into one of our best loved sportsmen.