From Anders Haahr Rasmussen Èn Bold ad Gangen, Wozniacki, US Open 2009 - Danish 2010. Any errors are mine.
I recently spoke to a tennis player who reads books rather intensively. His name is Janko Tipsarević, a 25-year old Serb ... Tipsarević use to read many books by the great philosophers like Nietzsche, Kant and Schopenhauer, and if he didn't understand them, he re-read them again and again. He was pre-occupied with, as he put it, "searching for the truth." Not to find it, that would be impossible, but because the quest is a goal in itself. Immersion in them was hard work, he said.
"It was a real challenge for me to understand these guys. As a tennis player you have a lot of free time, but it wasn't relaxing for me to read those books. Many of them are really pessimistic, and there was always this struggle between religion and philosophy, and this whole search for the truth was very depressing," related Tipsarević, world number 64, and the only player with a quote from Fyodor Dostoyevsky's "The Idiot" tattooed on the underside of his forearm. "Beauty will save the world," it says.
The existential anguish made Tipsarević lose motivation. Not that Tipsarević lost the desire to play tennis; he loved playing the game. But it was difficult mustering that last burning, intense desire to win matches. Questions of wins and losses paled when matched against the great questions life posed.
"I didn't care if I won, and I didn't enjoy it very much when I did. Everything sort of got flat in a way."
Janko Tipsarević asks fewer questions now. At the moment. he's reading a book about Sigmund Freud's anthropological perspectives. It's not easy reading, but reading difficult books is easier for him now.
"There's nothing more to this water bottle than the enjoyment of drinking it. There are no other angles, nothing deep. I don't ask those stupid "why" questions any more like I used to. And it's really made my life easier, I enjoy it more, and you can see the effect on my tennis career. Because no matter how complicated this sport is, it's also very easy. There are rules you have to stick to, and completely without God or Truth, you know if you've done a good piece of work."
"I'm taking it easy. Before, when I started a book, I wanted to finish it in a week. Now I read more slowly, and now I also read ... I wouldn't call them dumb, but more relaxing books, detective novels, Agatha Christie, The Da Vinci Code, whatever."
"This career we have doesn't allow you to look at things from more than one perspective. It makes life more complicated," he says, and points to the water bottle he has in his hand.