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Nadal, but nothing new
on 23 January 2013
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.