Notes & Quotes: Open by Andre Agassi

The following are my favorite notes from Andre Agassi's Open: An Autobiography.
  1. I play tennis for a living, even though I hate tennis, hate it with a dark and secret passion, and always have.
  2. I’ve won 869 matches in my career, fifth on the all-time list, and many were won during the afternoon shower.
  3. Disorder is distraction.
  4. I don't like anything that's rigged, so I don't give much effort.
  5. Against bad players I press, which is the tennis term for not letting things flow. Pressing is one of the deadliest things you can do in tennis.
  6. The first time I ever hit a ball on grass is the first time I play Wimbledon.
  7. I can’t imagine all these people trying to be like Andre Agassi, since I don’t want to be Andre Agassi.
  8. People don’t understand the pain of losing in a final. You practice and travel and grind to get ready. You win for one week, four matches in a row. (Or, at a slam, two weeks, six matches.) Then you lose that final match and your name isn’t on the trophy, your name isn’t in the record books. You lost only once, but you’re a loser.
  9. No one bothers to explain that snapping, baring your fangs, makes reporters more rabid. Don’t show them fear, but don’t show them your fangs, either.
  10. "If somebody can write down your [workout] routine on a piece of paper, it isn’t worth the piece of paper it’s written on. You’re asking me to put you through a workout here that leaves no room for where you are, how you’re feeling, what you need to focus on. It doesn’t allow for change." - Gil Reyes, Andre's trainer
  11. Losing is one thing; being outgunned is another.
  12. I spent my childhood in an isolation chamber, my teen years in a torture chamber.
  13. There's a lot of good waiting for you on the other side of tired.
  14. A win doesn’t feel as good as a loss feels bad, and the good feeling doesn’t last as long as the bad. Not even close.
  15. The house always wins, right? Why? Because the odds are stacked in the house’s favor. So? Be the house!
  16. Perfectionism is something I chose, and it’s ruining me, and I can choose something else. I must choose something else.
  17. Simply knowing your enemy is a powerful advantage.
  18. I did it—I’m the number one tennis player on earth, and yet I feel empty.
  19. They remind me of the old Vegas loan shark method of beating someone with a bag of oranges, because it leaves no outer bruises.
  20. Losing on purpose isn't easy. It's almost harder than winning.
  21. The deliberately bad decisions are made in a dark place, far below the surface.
  22.  Remember this. Hold on to this. This is the only perfection there is, the perfection of helping others. This is the only thing we can do that has any lasting value or meaning. This is why we’re here. To make each other feel safe.
  23. So you hate tennis. Hate it all you want. You still need to respect it—and yourself.
  24. This is why we’re here. To fight through the pain and, when possible, to relieve the pain of others. So simple. So hard to see.
  25. It's in hospital hallways that we know what life is about.
  26. It doesn’t matter if you hit the best shot in the world—remember? If it’s the wrong moment, it’s the wrong shot.
  27. After dinner [Nelson] Mandela stands and gives a stirring talk. His theme: we must all care for one another—this is our task in life. But also we must care for ourselves, which means we must be careful in our decisions, careful in our relationships, careful in our statements. We must manage our lives carefully, in order to avoid becoming victims.
  28. I feel only a cool gratitude and a steely resolve, which I maintain in part by waking early every morning, writing out my goals. After putting them on paper, saying them aloud, I also say aloud: No shortcuts.
  29. One set—try for that. Scaling down the task makes it seem manageable and makes me looser.
  30. Order, specificity, a clear and precise goal, are like candy to me.
  31. Some people are thermometers, some are thermostats. You’re a thermostat. You don’t register the temperature in a room, you change it.
  32. Being with the right woman is true happiness.
  33. We go out to dinner, to Matsuhisa. We sit at the sushi bar, holding hands, telling each other it’s going to be fantastic. I don’t realize until later that this is the same restaurant where it all unraveled with Brooke. Just like tennis. The same court on which you suffer your bloodiest defeat can become the scene of your sweetest triumph.
  34. Time and practice equal achievement.
  35. Weak legs command. Strong legs obey.
  36. When you eat is as important as what you eat.
  37. Even if it’s not your ideal life, you can always choose it. No matter what your life is, choosing it changes everything.
  38. The fifth set has nothing to do with tennis. It’s true. The fifth set is about emotion and conditioning.
  39. Recognize the polar opposites within yourself, and if you can’t embrace them, or reconcile them, at least accept them and move on.