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Customer Review

16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Fire it up one time...BAM!", 26 Sep 2007
This review is from: Breaking Back: How I Lost Everything and Won Back My Life (Hardcover)
There are many cases in which professional athletes have come back from devastating injuries and personal problems to regain their place in the spotlight. However, there are only a few of these stories that are as inspiring as the case of James Blake. A series of events in 2004 changed the life of this tennis player forever. He broke his neck in a practice session, lost his father to cancer and then became ill with zoster, a stress related disease that among many drawbacks, affects equilibrium. And then, just when things could not get worse, the love of his friends and family catapulted James back to his rightful spot in the tennis world and in life.

Generally, when I read books of this kind, I cannot help feeling that the athlete is sharing only what the public expects, holding back facts that they may consider a little embarrassing. We usually see somebody struggling, but that also has a kind of bravado to face the situation. This could not be further from the truth in this case though. I felt that James is not holding anything back and is spilling his guts trying to get us to understand every detail of his struggle. Andrew Friedman definitely helps, displaying a proficient writing style and not letting the book get boring at any point.

Besides containing a fair amount of personal aspects related to the fight against adversity and the importance of friendship, this book has some very interesting insights into the mind of a tennis player. Blake shares with us the process by which he became a professional tennis player, but also what goes through the mind of a pro during a match and at the end of the year when it is time to take stock. There are many snippets of information about players on the tour and these keep us engaged and at times help lighten up the mood.

Blake is the kind of pro that plays from the heart, and you can see that passion in his storytelling too. It is no surprise that his mentor and idol is Andre Agassi, who also displays similar traits in the court. Or that Blake is amazed by the talent of Fernando Gonzalez, who plays without a safety net and goes all out in every point, looking for impossible winners. James Blake lives like this, fighting adversity and going for the break right after his serve has been broken, and he has proven he knows how to do this. Granted, he got some help along the way.

This is a story that can be appreciated by anyone. It does not matter whether you are a tennis player or not. In this regard, the author included a glossary of tennis terms to help the novice, and allow them full enjoyment. I hope that if you read this book you will love it as much as I did, and I wish James every success in his future tournaments. So far 2007 has been a pretty good year for him!
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