Rafa: My Story, by Rafael Nadal

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The Independent Culture

If you're looking for the kind of angst-ridden revelations that Andre Agassi poured out in his autobiography Open, this isn't for you.

Unlike Agassi, Rafael Nadal loves tennis, doesn't do drugs, hardly touches alcohol, doesn't screw around and lives surrounded by a tightly knit group of family and friends. His idea of a good time is to do the cooking for the Nadal clan when they all share a house during Wimbledon fortnight.

Turn to the chapter entitled "Rafa's Women" expecting some hot gossip and you will find instead a paean of praise to his mother, sister and girlfriend of six years, Maria Francisca Perello, a level-headed girl with a degree in business administration who prefers to hold down a full-time job in their home town of Manacor in Mallorca rather than bask in reflected glory by trailing around the world with Rafa.

Where the book scores heavily is in revealing the innermost thought processes of a champion as he strives for perfection. The earlier narrative is based around Nadal's epic victory over Roger Federer in the 2008 Wimbledon final, with flashbacks to his earlier life, and he relives the match almost point by point, explaining his decision-making as to what stroke he played each time in revelatzory detail.

This format is repeated as he talks us through his 2010 Wimbledon title victory against Novak Djokovic, this account being tinged with honest foreboding that someone even younger has emerged to challenge him during the years to come.

In a typically graceful gesture, Nadal grants his collaborator on the book, John Carlin – to call him a mere ghostwriter would diminish this excellent, and usefully bilingual, writer's obviously valuable input – equal billing as author. Between them they have served up a winner.



Published in hardback by Sphere, £17.99

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