Agassi: image was everything

“There is no comparing anyone to Andre Agassi, at least not with his permission. He is very much his own invention and amalgamation” wrote Robin Finn on the New York Times the day before the 1990 Roland Garros Final. For the last time, Andre Agassi showed the blond hairdo he kind of shared with Dweezil Zappa. It was the last masquerade of a rebel apparently without any other cause than finding a way to deal with his own contraddictions.

Reaction is the keyword to define Agassi’s career. His father, Mike, considered him his last chance, his last hope. Immigrated from Iran after competing in the 1948 ans 1952 Olympics for the Iranian boxing team, Mike tied a ball to a string over Andre’s crib and, when his son managed to sit in a high chair, he taped half a ping-pong paddle to his wrist and threw balloons to him. A few years later, he led Andre training in the hardcourt he had built in the backyard against a combination of machines Andre was used to call “the Dragon”.

Mike Agassi believed in maths, as Andre explains in his well-known and discussed autobiography, Open: “he said if I hit 2500 balls a day, I’ll hit 17,500 a week and almost a million a year. And a kid who hits 1 million balls a year is unbeatable”.

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