The Wimbledon finals are this weekend, and tennis fans can only hope to see something half as good as 2008’s already classic, heart-in-throat, five-set men’s final, wonderfully and intimately detailed in L. Jon Wertheim’s Strokes of Genius: Federer, Nadal, and the Greatest Match ever Played.
Wertheim, a senior writer for Sports Illustrated, elegantly sets the stage of the rivalry between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal—players with diametrically opposed styles (free-flowing artistry vs. brute strength) and temperaments (the stoic Swiss vs. the fiery Spaniard) —and their captivating four-hour-and-48-minute match (stretching over seven hours, thanks to rain delays) that forced each man to become, somehow, even better. The book is filled with fun anecdotes and facts—ever wondered what friends and family in the players box talk about?—but you don’t need to be a tennis devotee to get caught up in the excitement; Wertheim entertainingly examines how psychology, strategy, and personality relates to any well-matched meeting between fierce competitors.
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