on 24 August 2011
I was eagerly awaiting Rafa's autobiography and pre-ordered it months ago, it was well worth the wait. I really enjoyed it and I read it in one weekend as I couldn't put it down, it's a real page turner!
It gives a real insight into what makes Rafa tick, it's very honest, inspiring and really interesting; I've been a fan of Rafa's for 6 years and I admire him even more after reading this book.
The book is really well written and each chapter has 2 sections, the 1st written by Rafa and the 2nd by John Carlin with more info and insights. I especially like the way he describes Rafa as "Clark Kent and Superman" and reveals that Rafa has fears and insecurites (as most of us do & can relate to) but the way he conquers them and has achieved all he has is a real inspiration. I also love the inclusion of Rafa's family giving more inights about his personality.
There are 16 pages of colour photos in it ranging from when Rafa was a child to his US Open win last year.
A great book, Rafa fans will love it.
on 21 August 2011
This really is Rafael Nadal laid bare and with total honesty by himself, his family, friends and confidantes. As autobiographies go, this is my favourite and easiest read so far, and I have read some good ones so far. I guess it helps that I am a massive Rafa fan, but everything in the book smacks of total honesty, of absolute truth to the point of embarrassment, to just plain telling it like it is. It shows us how Rafa was brought up in the loving cocoon of his family, pushed to breaking point by Uncle Toni, how he shaped him, how Rafa flourished and grew as the most awesome tennis player we see today. Aside from all that, as if we need it, there are some great photos of him and his family and extended family. A truly great read if ever there was one, and the only book book I've bought since I got my kindle!
on 1 September 2011
A revealing insight to one of the greatest players of the game, Rafa speaks candidly about injury, family, friends and what went through his mind during that epic Wimbledon 08 final, and all captured beautifully by John Carlin. When reading the book you feel that Rafa is sitting beside you telling you his story, you become engrossed in the highs and lows of his career and the impact Uncle Toni has had, particularly in the early years. For me as an avid Rafa fan the importance of family to him was well known, how they have shaped him to be the person he is and how he remains so grounded simply because of those around him is fascinating. John Carlin also brings an added dimension to the book speaking to those closest to Rafa, this being his parents, sister, girlfriend and extended family who each individually talk about one of most famous men on the planet but see him simply as a son, brother, boyfriend, nephew or grandchild. Rafa also speaks about his team who travels with him and importance they play not only in his tennis career but in keeping him sane when travelling the world. A must read for any tennis or sports fan, Rafa My Story is beautifully written and full of gems, I was genuinely sad to come to the end of this book.
This book was a gift and probably not one I would have bought myself, despite being a lifelong follower of tennis and a fan of both Nadal's game and demeanour. That said, I've quite enjoyed the novelty of reading this auto/biography, although I do generally think a bit more life should be lived before one embarks on such an undertaking for best effect. I feel this book's main flaw is in its padding out with repetition a dearth of material.
The need for padding is perhaps not just because of Nadal's (relative) youth, but also because he is a focussed and private individual by nature. Something that to those of us who "know" of Nadal on the tour, through his press-conferences and interviews, will come as no surprise, and something that makes him one of the sport's most endearing personalities. It doesn't really make him the most thrilling subject for a book, nor does it make this book a place of any great revelations, either about the world of tennis, or its players, or indeed Nadal's own team and family.
Divided into 9 chapters, each chapter opens with Nadal dissecting a final he played in each of the four Grand Slams starting with (arguably) the greatest ever played: Wimbledon, 2008. These sections do tend to wander at times, but unlike others I felt Nadal's "voice" to be quite consistent with what I imagine, give or take the inevitable vagaries of translation. He offers insight into the physical and mental pressures of the game through the kind of detailed analysis of points that forms part of his match preparation--and at his most revelatory he recounts the affects of injury and his parents' separation on his life. John Carlin's companion pieces offer thoughts from Nadal's team, the most interesting of which is the complex coach/player relationship. It's a fascinating dynamic that seemed to be in its state of greatest flux--and therefore most appealing--just as the book ended!
Rafa: My Story is solidly written, easy to read but could never be called exciting, relying too much on a few central themes that are regurgitated often without offering further analysis. There's no gossip or egotism; instead the auto/biography is a testament to the peculiarly Mallorcan influences of family, humility and reserve. Nothing is given away, and what is revealed is done so phlegmatically by all concerned. I finished this book equally admiring of Nadal's qualities and of the determination and mental strength required to be a champion in an individual sport, but feeling slightly disappointed that I'd learned little of Nadal that I didn't already know.
on 25 August 2011
** spoiler alert ** As a huge Rafa fan this was interesting to read, mainly for the indepth match analysis he gives for the 2008 Wimbledon final. I am sure many people watch these big matches and wonder what is going through the players minds during a massive occasion like that and here we have one of the biggest players ever giving us a blow by blow account.
There are definitely no big revelations, I knew all the stories he referred to in here, from the eating too many chocolate croissants, having special shoes designed to uncle Toni telling him he could make it rain, so if you're a long time Rafa fan who follows him closely you're not going to learn anything new from this at all.
The only thing that did surprise me was the level at which he discussed Toni's strictness, again I have known about the water bottle thing for a while, as well as the restaurant/trouser incident but it was different reading it from Rafa's perspective and it comes across that Rafa is in no doubt that Toni's behaviour helped to mould him into the player he is today, along with his very supportive parents.
Overall a good read with some interesting point of view information but not the warts and all kind of book that Agassi gave us, which is actually not what a Rafa fan should expect anyway. :)
on 25 August 2011
A wonderful and long awaited insight into the life of this sporting genius. It reinforces the humility he shows both on and off the court as well as cataloging his aims, values and what makes him tick. The honesty from both Rafa and his family members and friends is refreshing. An excellent account of his career so far and his hopes, fears and aims for the future. Worth every penny and some lovely photograhs as well. Enjoy !!
on 2 February 2014
Rafael Nadal has always seemed unusual, both as a tennis player and as a human being, and his book gives a fascinating insight into what makes him tick.
While it's written by a ghost writer, Mr Nadal's personality comes through very strongly, and it seems consistent with what you see him do on court, and off it as well. On court he is focused, courteous, powerful and always dangerous, with some breathtaking moves and the ability to hang in there and win on important occasions, even against opponents who were initially rated higher than he was. Off court he seems shy, again courteous, and incredibly modest and generous, both in victory and if he happens to lose. He does not give a lot away.
I assumed that possibly this is because he is (or seems to be) uncomfortable speaking English, but after reading this book I've come to understand that his reserve is more than a language barrier. It's the way he remains 'normal.' It's very reassuring to know that not every 'celebrity' is in love with the condition.
I found the parts of the story which deal with his family life, his career advancement, his training regimes and other external matters very interesting, but what really riveted me was his personal blow-by-blow description of his important matches. This is wonderful insight into what a tennis player actually has to do during a match, what comes naturally to him, what he has to consciously work at, and most interesting of all ...what his mind does during a match.
While other tennis players will no doubt react differently and think differently than Rafael Nadal, they all face the same challenges. It's very interesting to get insight into what these challenges actually are. I know I will never watch ANY tennis match again without being aware of these mental and physical challenges, and it will be interesting to watch how each player handles them.
I came away from this book feeling very informed. I like sports, but I'm not a competitive person, so it's interesting to read the views of someone who is. Rafael Nadal has (barring injury) many years left to play at the top level, I hope ...but this book left me wondering what he will do after his playing career comes to an end. This will be bulk of the rest of his life. How will he apply what he's learned so well to other aspects of his life?
There are interesting hints, especially when he says he was dismayed to learn just how little money most athletes outside of the big spectator sports have at their disposal for training purposes. He recognises that they all train just as hard as he does, but have little in the way of support. I hope that after his tennis career is over, he will turn his intelligence and focus to helping other athletes gain the financial backup they need to excel. It's one way he could advance and remain at the top of the sporting world, after his last tournament is played. I think he has a great deal of potential, and will remain a success no matter what he does with his life.
All in all, a very good read, and a very thought-provoking insight into a very unusual man.
on 13 July 2013
Although I am a die hard fan of Rafael Nadal and he is by far my favorite tennis player, I am not a huge fan of any type of autobiographies/biographies. But this was amazing. It gives such a wonderful insight into how a tennis player deals mentally with each shot and how much of the game is based on instincts and split second decisions.
His life is completely dominated by tennis and I loved that. His commitment to the sport is unlike anything I have read about, and you really get the feeling that he purely plays for the adulation and joy at winning and not for the money. He genuinely loves the sport he plays, which is such a heartwarming thing to hear from any professional sportsman. His dedication to training never wavers and his ability to switch into Rafa the tennis legend and Rafael, the humble, wise and private man is profoundly explored in this book. He talks a lot about injuries and his recognition of his lifespan as a professional athlete as being very tender and short. And constantly refers to his 'endurance' from a physical and psychological perspective, giving a wonderful insight to the highs and lows of being one of the best tennis players of this generation.
Overall, his wise and beautifully humble nature (instilled in him, as you find out, by his family) means he is such an inspirational and valuable commodity to the world of sport. There is simply no one sportsman I can compare him to, he is truly individual and there will never be anyone who is as wholeheartedly gracious and brilliant as he is. This book is a must read for anyone, Rafa fan or not, who is interested in tennis from a psychological perspective in particular.
on 6 December 2012
I am a huge Rafa Nadal fan but was never that keen on reading this book just yet as I feel a sportsman should wait until retirement, or when he's close to the end, before releasing an autobiography. However, I decided to grab it to pass time.
It's an easy book to read and Rafa is honest in how he treats life and his tennis career. The 'humble' Nadal you see on court is not a put on, it is who he is, conditioned by his strong family ties and strict Uncle Toni. He speaks about the injuries he had and how he was reduced to a weeping wreck by one serious one which still troubles him and he talks us through, over a few chapters that are spread out, the classic Wimbledon 2008 Final vs Roger Federer.
But there is nothing that really grabs hold of you, nothing that stands out and is that revealing. There are one or two passages, sure. You would expect that. But I think due to Rafa's 'normal' upbringing, as much as being a tennis pro can be described as 'normal', there isn't much of a narrative and if there is it hasn't been shared with much depth.
Nor is there much 'dirt', inside info or tidbits from the tour. I understand that; not only is Rafa a gentleman he is also currently still very much an active and high profile athlete and therefore would find it quite awkward if he said what he truly felt about his rivals on the tour. But it's why I feel these books are best for when you retire.
This isn't a bad book and I would recommend this if you are a Nadal fan. But if you have only a passing interest and are interested in tennis autobiographies, I would recommend Open by Andre Agassi (which may be the best sports autobiography I have read), Breaking Back: How I Lost Everything and Won Back My Life by James Blake and Serious by John McEnroe before picking up Rafa's book.
on 8 January 2013
Just to read Rafa's view of the 2008 final of Wimbledon makes this book worth reading. I loved all the parts when Rafa talks about his tennis training including the small details that I in particular am so curious about like what he eats before a match, what time he goes to bed, is he able to sleep etc.
However, I agree with another person's comment that I read, you can't really hear Rafa's 'voice' at all in this book. I guess he told the writer about how he felt and the writer fixed it up to make it more 'literary' - and Rafa got lost in the process. It would've been better to just translate Nadal's exact words because it was off-putting throughout the whole reading that the way things were expressed didn't seem like the way Rafa would ever say them.
The book tries to make the final against Djokovic exciting and suspenseful, but it just isn't/wasn't (obviously) anything to compare to the Wimbledon final so that falls flat.
Also all the talk about how close the Nadal's family is, how Majorcans are all like this or like that, simple people, Rafa is just an islander, he walks around Majorca just like everyone else etc is a bit silly and tiresome (this stuff is brought up again and again).
To repeat, the book is worth reading for the behind the scenes look at what Rafa does before during and just after a tournament if those are the kind of details that interest you as they do me.