One of the greatest names in the history of tennis and eight-time Grand Slam winner Andre Agassi is on a visit to the UK and visited Essex just eight days before Great Britain and the United States face each other in the Davis Cup.
It’s perfect timing as GB skipper Leon Smith gears up to lead his team against their American counterparts in Glasgow next week.
As Andy Murray was beaten in Dubai by rising star Borna Coric, Agassi said he believes the world number three must find a way to keep his cool on the court, insisting Britain’s number one is a “tortured perfectionist”.
He told reporters: “It would help Andy if he came to terms with what could keep him at his highest level mentally.
“I don’t think it’s true he doesn’t have a fighting spirit – that guy is his own highest critic, he holds himself to a standard you wouldn’t dare hold him to.
“When I look at him I don’t see someone who isn’t a fighter but I do see someone who has to put his circumstances in context and figure out how to constantly get back to the job in hand.
“That’s tougher for some players than others.”
The American star was one of the world’s most flamboyant and dominant players and was notably described by the BBC as “perhaps the biggest world wide star in the sport’s history.”
At the beginning of a glittering career Agassi had famously avoided Wimbledon because of the all-white clothing policy, but won the championship (his first Grand Slam) in 1992. His charisma, hair and fashion sense endeared him to fans and crowd pleaser Agassi became one of the games most well known and popular faces.
He said: "After the whirlwind success of five Grand Slams I faced a lean period and dropped drastically down the rankings table."
“I fought back and with the help of a fitness regime with Coach Gil Reyes I found a new lease of life.” Agassi’s punishing training schedule with Reyes paid dividends as the star bounced back to No6 – the highest ever jump by a Top 10 player in a calendar year.
Gil Reyes has coached athletes to become champions for four decades. His celebrated partnership began with Andre Agassi in 1987. Agassi had sought help from Reyes, then the head strength and conditioning coach for the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels basketball team.
His method of safety and efficiently building strength helped UNLV win the NCAA men’s basketball championship in 1990. He saw even bigger potential in Agassi and left UNLV that year to become Agassi’s strength and fitness coach. Under Reyes’ guidance, Agassi won every major men’s singles title in tennis over the next 16 years, including eight Grand Slam trophies.
Agassi’s glittering career saw him become the first male to win all four Grand Slam titles on three different surfaces, as well as the Davis Cups and 1996 Olympic Gold for the United States of America. Also added roll of honour were 17 ATP Masters Series titles.
Agassi is famed for his charitable endeavours and the Andre Agassi Foundation has raised more than $60 m for vulnerable children in South Nevada.
The tennis legend attended the official European launch of his cutting edge gym concept BILT by Agassi & Reyes at David Lloyd Leisure’s state of the art Chigwell Club.
Agassi won the Davis Cup in 1990, 1992 and 1995. The former World No. 1 fielded questions on his BILT by Agassi & Reyes range – an innovative line of ergonomically designed fitness machines modelled on his own custom made equipment honed over two decades by Agassi and Reyes.
"The range is almost identical to what I trained on, there is no other equipment like this on the market," he said.
There was a live demo from former Gladiator stars Jenny Pacey (Enigma) and Wayne Gordon (Doom) using some of the machines.
Jenny Pacey said: “The equipment on display are custom made and will basically provide strength and conditioning for athletes in literally any sport.”
Agassi attributed his health as part of his on court success. He said: “I’ve been fortunate to have had a relatively injury free career and we have concentrated on three critical factors in the creation of this range – Strength, Conditioning and Safety. It helped me remain virtually injury free during my playing career.
“We have a goal to provide the most innovative, effective and safe commercial strength equipment. The machines are built for productivity and the high intensity muscle isolation will build strength without injury.”
Agassi added: “I’m delighted that the hard work that has gone into many years of development has been recognised by David Lloyd Leisure, the pioneer in the UK’s premium fitness sector. We look forward to developing our relationship further as David Lloyd Leisure continue club improvements over the years.”
Scott Lloyd, CEO oF David Lloyd Leisure, which is rolling out an ambitious gym innovation programme in addition to a £50 million upgrade of it’s clubs, said: “We want to make the gym as enjoyable, motivating and inspirational in every possible way.”
Agassi who arrived at David Lloyd Leisure straight from the airport after a 10 hour flight also took part in a live Q&A session with Wimbledon TV presenter John Inverdale, in the gym, where questions were taken on the BILT by Agassi range of fitness and training equipment. There was also a Q&A with junior tennis players.
Agassi's response during the Q&A when asked about his inspiration growing up was.
"At the beginning my brother & sis, then everyone who was better than me," he said.