John / Memoir / Nonfiction

Federer and Me by William Skidelsky

FedIn Federer and Me: A Story of Obsession author William Skidelsky does what any good author should do when he finds himself spending too much time watching sports: He writes a book about it. Skidelsky attempts to explain the fierce loyalty fans, such as the author, have toward Swiss tennis great Roger Federer. Even though it’s a relatively brief book, Skidelsky also provides a concise history of the last forty to fifty years of tennis, particularly regarding changes in rackets. If this sounds like it might be a little dull for those with a mild or complete lack of interest in tennis (and Roger Federer), it will very likely put any of those readers to sleep. Since I like tennis and Federer (though I’m also a big Andy Murray fan), I found the book quite enjoyable.

Like most Federer fans, Skidelsky also engages in some Rafael Nadal hating. Nadal’s emergence took away what many had seen as Federer’s invincibility and the likelihood that Federer would be viewed as unquestionably the greatest player of all time. While I am more of a Federer fan, I’m not a Nadal hater. Nadal always seems to leave everything on the court and is frequently humble in post match interviews. Like Federer, he just seems like a good guy. The author has various beefs with Nadal, which he admits stem largely from Nadal’s dominance over Federer for a number of years. Most of these I could put aside, but Skidelsky, unfortunately, catalogs Nadal’s many odd tics and ocd tendencies on the court. I happened to watch a Nadal match a few days after reading this section of the book and found myself noticing all of Nadal’s on-court compulsions and routines. It definitely made watching Nadal less fun, but I guess that was the author’s goal. Despite Skidelsky forever changing the way I watch a Rafael Nadal match, I did enjoy Federer and Me. It’s a quirky and unpredictable read, but in a good way.

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