- Jon Levey
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Throughout his playing career, Andre Agassi stayed close to his Las Vegas roots. Playing the part of the manipulative showman, Agassi would do anything on court to entertain his audience.
Whether it was a thrilling comeback win, a dubious upset loss or even the occasional outburst at an umpire, you never knew what trick Agassi had up his sleeve. However, even Agassi outdid himself with the revelation in his recent autobiography "Open," that for a large chunk of 1997 he was high on crystal meth. Few tennis fans can feign disbelief that Agassi's trademark feathered tresses were bogus, or he had a penchant for tanking matches. But trying to rise to the top of the rankings with the help of "biker's coffee" was a genuine stunner.
Leave it to Agassi to raise the bar of the sports autobiography. His candor will undoubtedly inspire future tennis tomes to be just as, well, open. Expect to read some of these bombshells in the years to come.
(No, the other one)
Page 167: Connors and I were playing cards in the locker room at a tournament in L.A. when he introduced me to his pal, Big Earl. This was one large dude. Dumb, too. I had to show him my tournament player's badge to prove to him I wasn't the guy from the "American Pie" movies. (Although I had to do the same thing with Brooklyn on our first three dates. No joke, three dates). Jimmy said they'd been friends since their childhood days in St. Louis, and Big Earl was a man who could get things done. He sat at the table, played a few hands and explained to me how he would give Federer what he called the "Full Gillooly." Nothing too severe, just hurt enough so he'd skip Wimbledon. "If I had to do it all over again, this is how I would've dealt with Borg," Jimmy said to me. "But Mom wouldn't let me." So I gave Big Earl the green light. Two days later, I saw him sitting in Federer's friends' box wearing that stupid "RF" hat sandwiched between Mirka and Gwen Stefani. Fed was freakin' untouchable.
My Life -- sponsored by Nike, Tag Heuer and Sony Ericsson
Page 58: I had a coach to hone my groundstrokes and another to fix my serve, so it made perfect sense to find someone who could perfect my grunt. To protect her identity, I'll call her Monica. Before a big tournament, I would always pay her a visit to work on my pitch range and timing. Not only did Monica improve the length and volume of my screeching, but most importantly, when to change the frequency. We developed special screeches for different situations in the match. If I was losing, I would break out the scream that sounded like I had come home to find my dog brutally murdered. We called it "Dead Dolce." Then there was the one I'd use when returning serve on a pivotal break point. It was an extended moan with a touch more bass than my standard scream. Before I met Monica, I was just a noisy teenager with some promise. She made me a Wimbledon champion.
The Life and Times of Rafael Nadal
Page 143: I played the role of the gracious sportsman, but the truth is I couldn't stand my opponents and relished beating them. I can't count how many times I wanted to smack Djokovic, with his incessant ball bouncing, awful impressions and bogus breathing problems. Murray needed a good beating, too. He wins a five-setter against Jurgen Melzer and starts flexing his muscles as if he's accomplished something. Way to go, champ. Safin was tolerable, though. He drew a lot of babes to our matches, and his tantrums were hilarious. My Uncle Toni came up with the idea that if I acted as if I was buddies with everybody, they'd have too much respect for me. Big edge to Rafa. And yes, I often refer to myself in the third person. The scheme worked best on Federer. I owned that sniveling pretty boy. Seeing his tears after beating him was just heaven. If Federer is the greatest of all time, what does that make me? Sure, I told him he was the best. But if you believe I meant it, you probably believe I grew my biceps by eating spinach. (More on that later.)
Need I Say More?
Page 879: 2009 was a glorious year for me. I got married, welcomed the twins, won my first Roland Garros title and passed Sampras on the all-time Grand Slam list. As the season was coming to a close, I was poised to win my sixth straight U.S. Open title. I was in the final, and as a reward, Mirka bought me a present. Fall fashion week, which happens right around the Open, announced deep V-necks, military jackets and men's brooches (finally) as essentials. But of the new looks, Mirka found the one that excited me most -- the tailored double-breasted suit. I had been waiting for years for the slimmer cut to become vogue. Her gift was a magnificent wide-lapelled, charcoal Canali pinstripe. Except when I tried it on, it was obvious I didn't have broad enough shoulders to create the V-shape to pull it off. I felt round and bloated like Alec Baldwin. Mirka tried to convince me I was being ridiculous and it would look great when I wore it out the following night after winning the title. I managed to keep the suit far from my thoughts for most of the match, but when I was up two sets to one against Del Potro, it crept into my head. I was just horrified at the prospect of wearing it out in public. Forehands became irrelevant to me and before I knew it, Del Potro was holding the winner's trophy. That gorgeous suit still hangs untouched in my closet to this day.
Jon Levey is a New York-based freelance writer. He can be reached at email@example.com.
No, Andy Roddick isn't that guy from "American Pie." But that's only a snippet of what we'll find out in his, and many other, future tennis autobiographies.