A Handful of Summers and John McPhee's Levels of the Game come to mind. As do the insightful essays of the ever-brilliant (and tragically lost) David Foster Wallace. Or Steve Flink's The Greatest Tennis Matches of the Twentieth Century.But for the tennis fan actively engaged in the game, A Champion's Mind will offer its satisfactions.
The tennis fan who followed Sampras' glorious career will enjoy reliving that journey through the eyes of the player himself. There are the expected interesting vignettes, and odd insights into Sampras' thinking at important and memorable moments on the court. As an example, tennis aficionados will recall the famous 1995 Australian open quarterfinal against Jim Courier, in which Sampras wept his way through the final set, having just learned of his long-time coach Tim Gullikson's illness, which would ultimately kill him. What is less known is that Courier's words from the other side of the net, which to most listeners sounded consoling and playful, struck Sampras as irksome and irritated, motivating his victory.The book is a sincere effort to lay forth his attitudes, his approach to his career, his history. There are many places in which the language seems more that of the co-author, Peter Bodo, than Pistol Pete's. Would Sampras describe a sky as "leaden"? I doubt it.I doubt too whether this is a book for the general reader, even the sports reader. I think one has to care about Sampras and tennis to begin with for this to hold one's interest. An uninitiated reader seeking an understanding of the sport of professional tennis has many other illuminating and more engaging choices. Gordon Forbes