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The Long Run and Beautiful Game of Roger Federer
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A major biography of the most iconic men's tennis player of the modern era.
There have been other biographies of Roger Federer, but never one with this kind of access to the man himself, his support team, and the most prominent figures in the game, including such rivals as Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Andy Roddick. In The Master, New York Times correspondent Christopher Clarey sits down with Federer and those closest to him to tell the story of the greatest player in men's tennis.
Roger Federer has often made it look astonishingly easy through the decades: carving backhands, gliding to forehands, leaping for overheads and, in his most gravity-defying act, remaining high on a pedestal in a world of sports rightfully flooded with cynicism. But his path from temperamental, bleach-blond teenager with dubious style sense to one of the greatest, most self-possessed and elegant of competitors has been a long-running act of will, not destiny. He not only had a great gift. He had grit.
Christopher Clarey, one of the top international sportswriters working today, has covered Federer since the beginning of his professional career. He was in Paris on the Suzanne Lenglen Court for Federer's first Grand Slam match and has interviewed him exclusively more than any other journalist since his rise to prominence. Here, Clarey focuses on the pivotal people, places, and moments in Federer's long and rich career: reporting from South Africa, South America, the Middle East, four Grand Slam tournaments, and Federer's native Switzerland. It has been a journey like no other player's, rife with victories and a few crushing defeats, one that has redefined enduring excellence and made Federer a sentimental favorite worldwide.
The Master tells the story of Federer's life and career on both an intimate and grand scale, in a way no one else could possibly do.
Midnight approached, and so did Roger Federer.
We journalists do a lot of waiting, and this wait was in a chauffeured car in a Buenos Aires suburb with Eric Carmen’s plaintive ballad “All by Myself” playing on the radio. That sounded right on key for me as I sat alone in the backseat with my notes and pre-interview thoughts, but not for Federer, who so seldom seems to be all by himself and certainly was not on this occasion.
It was mid-December 2012, the tail end of a resurgent year in which he had returned to No. 1 by winning Wimbledon, his first Grand Slam title in more than two years. Now, he had left his wife, Mirka, and three-year-old twin daughters at home in Switzerland and come for the first time to this part of South America to play a series of exhibitions that had sold out in minutes.
He was here for the money: $2 million per appearance, which guaranteed him more for six matches than the $8.5 million he had earned in official prize money in all of 2012. But Federer was also here for the memories: the chance to commune with new audiences in new places despite all the demands on his mind and body in the previous eleven months.
Other champions with their fortunes already secured would have been content to pass on the journey and the jet lag. But Federer and his agent, Tony Godsick, were thinking big picture: considering untapped Federer markets as well as untapped Federer emotions. The tour, which had taken him to Brazil and now Argentina, had surpassed their expectations, symbolized by the crowd of twenty thousand that had filled the makeshift stadium in Tigre this evening. That was a record for a tennis match in Argentina, proud land of tennis icons like Guillermo Vilas, Gabriela Sabatini, and Juan Martin del Potro, who had been Federer’s opponent and to some degree Federer’s foil.
“It was great but a little strange for Juan Martin,” said Franco Davin, then del Potro’s coach. “He’s at home in Argentina, and they cheer more for Federer.”
So it has gone in many a tennis nation. Federer gets to play at home just about everywhere, and even near midnight several hundred Federer fans were still waiting outside the stadium: adults standing on boxes to get a better view, children perched on their parents’ shoulders, digital camera lights flashing as their owners kept fingers on buttons in order to capture the moment.
It was quiet and expectant, and then it was bedlam as Federer emerged from a side door and made his way to the backseat, moving lightly on his feet even after the three-setter against del Potro.
“Bye-bye. Bye-bye. Bye-bye!” he said rhythmically in a conversational tone to the fans before opening the car door.
“How are things?” he said to me in the same tone after closing it behind him.
I have followed Federer on six continents; interviewed him more than twenty times over twenty years for the New York Times and the International Herald Tribune. Our meetings have taken place everywhere from a private plane to a backcourt at Wimbledon to Times Square to Alpine restaurants in Switzerland to a suite at the Hôtel de Crillon in Paris with a ridiculously good view of the Place de la Concorde while his future wife, Mirka Vavrinec, tried on designer clothes.
One habit that separates Federer from most other elite athletes I have encountered is that he will ask about you first and not in a perfunctory manner: inquiring about your own journey to this particular place, your own perceptions of the tournament, the country, the people.
“The reason Roger is so interesting is because he’s so interested,” Paul Annacone, his former coach, once told me.
My family of five had embarked on a globe trot of our own in 2012: a school year on the road beginning with three months in Peru, Chile, and Argentina.
Federer wanted to hear the highlights (Torres del Paine and Chiloé Island in Chile, Arequipa in Peru). But he was most interested in the schooling and how our three children reacted and benefited. It was yet another hint that he planned to remain on the road with his own family indefinitely, that he wanted to keep his children part of his everyday life and show them quite a bit of the world along the way.
“We are sort of returning guests at most of the cities and tournaments, and we’ve also created a lot of friends around the world,” he said. “It’s that home-away-from-home feeling. I’m able to reproduce that quite easily now, especially now with the kids. I want to keep reproducing that for them so they always feel comfortable everywhere we go.”
Federer’s curiosity—be it polite or from the heart—sets the tone for a conversation rather than a structured interview. It is disarming, although that does not seem to be his intent. What it creates, most of all, is an air of normalcy amid the extraordinary, and that is something Federer projects very intentionally. Federer can handle being on a pedestal (he has had lots of practice), but he often emphasizes that he is happier seeing eye-to-eye. His mother, Lynette, might well have passed this on. When someone hears her surname or a shopkeeper sees it on her credit card and asks if she is related to that Federer, she answers in the affirmative but then quickly shifts the focus by inquiring if they have children of their own.
“Look at this, listen to this,” he said in his distinctive nasal baritone, gesturing out the car window. “We’re, like, snaking through the crowds with police escorts, and this is not what I usually have, you know?”
“Funny,” I said. “I would think it would happen to you a lot.”
“Thank God it doesn’t, actually,” he said. “I consider myself really like a regular guy with a fascinating life as a tennis player, because the life as a tennis player has become very much living it in the public eye, traveling the world, live audience. You get the review right away. You know if you are good or bad. It’s like musicians a little bit, and I tell you, it’s a good feeling to have. Even if you are bad, it doesn’t matter. Go work at it. At least you know you have some work to do, and if you are great, it gives you confidence and motivation and inspires you. So it’s a great life, I have to admit. It’s hard at times, you know, because the travels can be hard. You know how it is. But I was thinking the other day, I entered the top 10 like ten years ago, and here I am now still experiencing things like this. It is like a total out-of-body experience, almost disbelief that it is really happening. I feel very fortunate, and I guess that’s also one of the reasons I would like to play for longer, because these things are not going to come back around when you retire.”
The surprise, even to Federer, was just how much more would come his way before retirement.
That night in Argentina, he was already thirty-one, the same age Pete Sampras, one of his role models, had been when he won a record fourteenth Grand Slam singles title at the 2002 United States Open. That turned out to be Sampras’s final tour match and would have been one of the sport’s ultimate walk-off home runs if Sampras had not waited another year to formally announce his retirement.
Stefan Edberg, another of Federer’s boyhood tennis heroes, retired at age thirty.
But Federer was not late in his career in Buenos Aires, as most tennis experts and fans would understandably have imagined. He was still smack in the middle of his run and would play on effectively into the 2020s as his generational tennis peers moved into business, commentary, or coaching Federer’s younger rivals.
Following Sampras in his final seasons in 2001 and 2002, it was clear that the grind and the pressure were taking a heavy toll on him. “Pete was done, but Roger is an entirely different animal,” said Annacone, who has coached them both. “Traveling the world drained Pete’s energy. Roger gets energy from it.”
Annacone traveled with Federer to the ATP tournament in Shanghai. On their second day in the city, Annacone and the rest of Federer’s team were sitting at a table talking in Federer’s hotel suite when there was a knock at the door. It was a Chinese woman.
Federer announced that their language teacher had arrived.
“Roger says, ‘She’s going to come over every day for like a half an hour, and we’re going to try to pick up on a few words here and there so we learn some Mandarin,’” Annacone said. “And I was like, ‘Dude, I can barely speak English.’ And Roger was like, ‘No, no, it’ll be fun.’ And he loved it. He wanted to learn some phrases so he could say thank you to the fans in Mandarin, but he was also in hysterics listening to us try to pronounce things. Roger just embraces the different aspects of traveling in a way that many others do not.”
It was Federer’s natural state with a father from Switzerland and a mother from South Africa, where Federer first visited when he was three months old and returned to regularly throughout his childhood. Sampras spoke no language other than English. Federer speaks French, English, German, and Swiss German, and also knows quite a few words of Afrikaans, thanks to his mother, and quite a few swear words in Swedish, thanks to his former coach Peter Lundgren.
As a Swiss in the border city of Basel, Federer was accustomed to switching cultural milieus from an early age. But being exposed to a way of life does not guarantee that you will embrace that way of life. Federer did so in part because, for a tennis champion, there was purpose to the globe-trotting, and what made him genuinely giddy in that car in Argentina in 2012 was the realization that the body of work he had created on the courts of Wimbledon and Roland Garros had translated and inspired more widely than he imagined.
“They are so passionate,” he said. “I’ve had more fans break down here in South America than anywhere else in the world, you know. They cry, and they shake, and they are just so, like, not in awe, but so happy to meet you that it’s disbelief for them. And that is something that has happened a few times before but it’s very rare, and here I must have had at least twenty people probably hugging me and kissing me and so happy just to get a chance to touch me even.”
As the Argentines shouted and pressed toward the car, he did not shrink from the window. He drew closer to it.
I asked Federer if he knew the English word “jaded.”
“A little bit,” he said, sounding hesitant.
“In French, it basically means ‘blasé,’” I said. “You’ve been through it all before, things no longer give you the same rush. It’s kind of how you imagine Björn Borg in the car leaving the US Open, never to return.”
Borg was twenty-five then.
Federer considered that for a moment.
“It happens very quickly,” he said. “You’re just, ‘I’m done. I don’t want to do it anymore. I’m tired of it all.’ And really, that’s what I try to avoid by having the proper schedule and the proper fun and the proper change, because, like you mentioned, if you do the same thing, it doesn’t matter what you do, too many times, all the time, too often you get bored of it. It doesn’t matter how extraordinary your life might be, so that’s where I think these kinds of trips, or a good buildup practice session or a great vacation or some amazing tournaments in a row, toughing it out, whatever it might be, it’s in the mix that I find the resources for more, the energy for more. Really, it’s pretty simple in a way.”
Watching Federer stay fresh and eager deep into his thirties, against logic and against tennis precedent, it was intriguing to realize that his ability to remain in the moment was in fact about forethought. If he was relaxed and accommodating despite all the forces pulling at him, it was because he knew himself and his microcosm well enough to avoid the pitfalls that would likely snuff out his pilot light.
But then such intentionality is very much in harmony with his career as a whole.
He has often made the game look astonishingly easy through the decades: hitting aces, gliding to forehands, and, in his most gravity-defying act, remaining high above the waterline in a world rightfully flooded with icon cynicism. But his path from temperamental, bleached-blond teenager with dubious style sense to one of the most elegant and self-possessed great athletes has been a long-running act of will, not destiny.
Federer is widely perceived as a natural, and yet he is a meticulous planner who has learned to embrace routine and self-discipline, plotting out his schedule well in advance and in considerable detail.
“I usually have an idea of the next one and a half years, and a very good idea about the next nine months,” he said in Argentina. “I can tell you what I’ll be doing on Monday before Rotterdam or what I’m doing Saturday before Indian Wells. I mean, not hour by hour, but I pretty much talk it through day by day.”
Though it is rare to see Federer sweat, there has been tremendous toil and ample self-doubt behind the scenes. He has played in pain far more than most of us realize. There has also been no shortage of bruising setbacks in the spotlight. One could easily argue that the two greatest matches in which he has played were the 2008 Wimbledon final against Rafael Nadal and the 2019 Wimbledon final against Novak Djokovic. Both ended in bitter defeats in tight fifth sets that extended past regulation.
He has been a big winner, racking up more than a hundred tour titles and twenty-three consecutive Grand Slam semifinals, but also a big loser.
That has no doubt contributed to his everyman appeal, helping to humanize him. To his credit, Federer has absorbed the blows, both public and private, and rebounded with the accent on positive energy and the long run.
He has transcended tennis, not by using it as a platform for higher or edgier causes but by remaining largely within the confines of the game. That is no small achievement for a sport with a dwindling and aging fan base in Europe and North America.
It is an old-school approach: low on controversy and on glimpses into his personal life, long on bonhomie and Corinthian spirit.
Boring? Hardly. How can anyone who unites in a divided world be a source of ennui? He has long had the beautiful game: balletic, often airborne as he leaps to strike a serve or groundstroke with his eyes on the contact point for a moment longer than any player I have watched in my more than thirty years of covering tennis. That ability to finish, truly finish, the stroke can make him appear nonchalant, but it is also integral to what makes him magnetic to the gaze. It is the equivalent of Michael Jordan hovering a little longer than everyone else in flight to the basket, of a dancer holding a pose for emphasis.
“He is the most beautiful and balletic player I’ve ever seen,” Billie Jean King told me. “His kinetic chain stays very connected. That’s where the elegance comes from.”
Professional tennis has been put into a particle accelerator during the last quarter century, with more powerful rackets and polyester strings and with taller, more explosive athletes. Stroke technique and footwork have had to be adjusted to deal with the speed, but Federer still seems to have the time he needs to put a final coat of paint on his shots. How can he play this way and still recover before hitting the next polished stroke? Because of rare vision, mobility, and agility but also because of relatively compact strokes and the confidence that comes with knowing that while others must plan and grind and press, he can conjure solutions on the run or full stretch that others simply lack the tool kit—or Swiss army knife—to create.
Marc Rosset, the best Swiss men’s player before Federer moved the goalposts to a faraway place, likes to talk about Federer’s “processing speed.”
Rosset remembers doing a drill in which someone would throw five balls of different colors into the air and ask players to catch the five balls in order according to color. “The maximum I ever did was four,” Rosset said. “It was really tough for me. Rog, you gave him five balls, and he caught all five.”
In Rosset’s view, “People focus a lot on an athlete’s talent with his hands or his feet. But there’s a talent we don’t talk about enough and that’s reactivity, the ability of their brain to interpret what their eyes are seeing. When you look at the great champions, a football player like [Zinedine] Zidane or [Diego] Maradona, or you look at Federer, Djokovic, or Nadal in tennis, you have the impression sometimes that they are in the Matrix, that everything is going so fast, too fast for you and me, but they pick up on things so quickly that it is as if they have more time for their brains to process it all.
“Zidane, when he dribbled, there were four people around him, but he was calm. It’s all in slow motion for him. These great champions are a fraction of a second ahead of everybody else, and that allows them to be more relaxed, because when you see some of the incredible shots that Roger could hit in his career, those are not shots you can practice.”
To watch Federer on his finer days is to be swept away by the flow of his movement but also to be put on edge by the sense that legerdemain is surely on the way, but when? It is a double dose of intoxication: intensified by how little he has deviated from the challenge at hand for most of his career. Without tirades or banter and with his inner journey rarely reflected in his deeply set eyes on court, the focus has remained on the physical act of him practicing his craft.
“He plays the ball, but he also plays with the ball,” his friend and longtime coach Severin Lüthi once told me.
It is a quality that appeals to insiders as well as outsiders. “Fed is the guy that probably more than anybody else still astounds other players,” said Brad Stine, a longtime coach who worked with Kevin Anderson and No. 1 Jim Courier. “They watch him and they honestly say, ‘How does he do that? I mean, really, how do you make that shot?’”
John McEnroe was an artist with a racket, too, but a tormented one. If Johnny Mac were Jackson Pollock, splattering paint in an attempt to express some internal struggle, Federer would be much closer to Peter Paul Rubens: prolific, well-adjusted, enduring, and perfectly accessible to mainstream tastes yet capable of giving chills to the experts with his brushwork and composition, too.
It is quite a school of performance art but also one that leaves ample white space on the canvas for others to find their own meaning in his work. Federer would rather not overthink the formula—“it’s pretty simple in a way,” he says—but he accepts that others will have at it, like a writer whose novels get parsed to the nth degree in a graduate seminar.
I remember talking with Federer about this before we boarded that private jet in the California desert in 2018 (it was my first and probably last ride in a private jet). He had played the final of the BNP Paribas Open the previous day against del Potro, blowing three match points on his own serve and losing in a third-set tiebreaker: his first defeat of the season. The margins had been so slim, the reaction time so compressed, even for him.
“Tactics? People talk about tactics,” Federer said. “But a lot of the time at this level it just comes down to instinct. It happens so fast that you have to hit the shot almost without thinking. There’s of course some luck involved.”
Fortune has indeed played a role for Federer. He might not have become a champion, at least not a tennis champion, if an Australian journeyman pro named Peter Carter had not decided to take a coaching job in, of all places, a small club in Basel, Switzerland. Federer might not have had the staying power if he had not met a cerebral, sensitive, and gifted fitness trainer named Pierre Paganini or crossed career paths with Mirka Vavrinec, an older Swiss player who eventually became his wife, part-time press agent, and organizer in chief. There is no way he would have played on so long and so convincingly without her full support and her own ambition.
“She has a desire to succeed that is just as strong as Federer, perhaps stronger,” said Paul Dorochenko, the French fitness trainer who worked with Vavrinec and Federer in their early years in Switzerland.
But in life and certainly in pro tennis it is really about what you do with your good fortune, what you make of your opportunities, and Federer built on many of them rather than squander them.
Federer is not as debonair as his marketers can make him appear. He is intelligent and intuitive but no master of the Bondian bon mot. He did, after all, stop school at sixteen and was not a particularly serious student. But he approached adulthood and the tour with much more rigor.
“I consider this life school,” he said in Argentina.
Though Federer was undeniably gifted, one of the things that differentiated him from some of the other great talents of his generation was that he had both an abiding love of the game and the drive to demand more of himself. He believed that maintaining the same level in pro tennis was actually losing ground, a belief that rubbed off on his younger rivals.
“The number one requirement to succeed at this level is I think the constant desire and open-mindedness to master and improve and evolve yourself in every aspect,” Djokovic told me recently. “I know Roger has talked about this a lot, and I think it’s something most top athletes in all sports can agree on. Stagnation is regression.”
Federer understood, or came to understand, his weaknesses and addressed them: anger management, mental toughness, concentration, endurance, a chronically sore back, and his single-handed backhand drive. He switched tactics, attacking more from the baseline than the net. He switched to a larger-headed racket to increase his chances of thriving in extended rallies and switched coaches repeatedly—but not impulsively—to get a fresh perspective and sometimes went without a coach at all. Throughout his life he has sought out people who could serve as mentors, even role models for his next phase: from Sampras to prelapsarian Tiger Woods to, more recently, Bill Gates, whose philanthropic approach Federer hopes to emulate in his later years.
His tennis skills have been the main ingredient in his success, but his people skills are also part of the recipe. Tennis superstars get a lot of free footwear, but it is rarer that they are able to put themselves in others’ shoes. Federer is an empath, constantly registering the feelings and energy in the stadium, the street, the room, the backseat.
“He’s extremely socially intelligent, and I think that’s a huge reason why he’s so popular,” said Andy Roddick, the American star who became his friend. “He’s a chameleon. He can work in kind of any room, and it’s a genuine emotion. It’s not like he’s fitting the mold in a calculated sense.”
About halfway between Tigre and downtown Buenos Aires, a car eluded the escort and pulled briefly alongside our vehicle at full speed. A young man, high on the thrill of the chase and perhaps on something else, extended his body halfway out the open window and waved a monogrammed RF cap at Federer.
“Well, at least you know your merchandise is moving,” I said.
Federer chuckled and waved through the glass. “I hope he doesn’t lose the cap,” he said. “Bye-bye. Bye-bye.”
Federer’s finely tuned antennae are part of the explanation for his postmatch tears, much less frequent now but still inseparably part of his persona. They seem to be not just an expression of joy or disappointment but a release after all the input he has absorbed on court.
It is not just about what he has invested emotionally in a match or a tournament; it is about what everyone has invested emotionally in a match or a tournament.
“So, does it start to seem normal after a while?” I asked as the car carrying the fan with the RF cap accelerated out of view.
“This? No. No. No,” he said, his voice rising to a higher pitch. “This is unbelievable. It’s just nice to see happy people in general, right? And this is just another world here, and that’s why I love playing exhibitions. Because it’s different. You finally go to a country maybe you’ve never been to before or do things you normally don’t have the time to do. You don’t have to worry too much about how you are really going to play, even though there is a certain level I can always achieve. But it’s about, really, how shall I say, making sure that you touch a lot of people’s hearts in an exhibition and make them happy and make them not travel to come to see you but you come travel to see them.”
At a press conference, Federer will answer queries at length and with a certain restraint. It is rare that he will stray off topic or volunteer information, but he respects the question and the questioner: quite a contrast with some of his predecessors (see Jimmy Connors) and his peers (see Lleyton Hewitt and, sadly in her later years, Venus Williams). In more intimate settings, Federer’s natural exuberance and geniality often get him waving his arms and launching into rambling paragraphs. Thoughts expressed in English—his first language but not always his best language—can take him in unexpected directions that require him to double back and make a few detours to get to his intended destination.
He is less polished off-camera, even goofy at times, although he saves his pranks and surprises for friends and colleagues, not for journalists along for the ride.
I have taken quite a few rides through the years, and this book will examine Federer’s career in part through the prism of those experiences. This will not be a Federer encyclopedia: Too many scores and match summaries bog down any tennis narrative, and he has given us biographers too much material, playing more than seventeen hundred tour-level matches and doing news conferences after most of them. Instead, this book aims to be episodic and interpretative, built with care around the places, people, and duels that have mattered most or symbolized most to Federer.
It is just one planet, and he has covered a great deal of it: pursuing trophies, paydays, novelty, fulfillment, and, increasingly through the seasons, communion.
Argentina was an unexpectedly meaningful stop on the journey, and as we approached his hotel in downtown Buenos Aires, Federer, winner of a record seventeen Grand Slam singles titles at that stage, was emphasizing how much he still wanted to improve.
“I’m going to take a vacation after this, rest and just get away from it all, because the last few years have been extremely intense,” he said. “I feel if I keep on pushing at this pace I might lose interest like you mentioned, just get jaded.”
“‘Jaded.’ That’s the new word I have in my vocabulary, and that’s the last thing I want happening,” he said. “Hopefully next year is going to be a platform for many more years. That’s the opportunity I want to give myself.”
- "Roger Federer is the most beautiful and balletic player I've ever seen. In this entertaining and deeply researched book, Christopher Clarey, the top tennis writer of today, tells the story of how Federer became one of our sport's greatest champions and how much harder it was than he made it look."—Billie Jean King, former World No. 1 professional tennis player
- “Style married with substance. Heft married with levity. Polished, detail-oriented, executed with grace. Roger Federer gets the biography he deserves.”—L. Jon Wertheim, Sports Illustrated executive editor and bestselling author of THIS IS YOUR BRAIN ON SPORTS
- "Roger Federer plays tennis like Michelangelo painted: every stroke is perfection, the end result a masterpiece. Christopher Clarey captured just that."—Martina Navratilova, former World No. 1 professional tennis player
- "Christopher Clarey is a rare combination: the consummate insider with an objective lens. With THE MASTER, he delivers a deep and enlightening view of Roger’s life and career that sports fans will be parsing for decades.”—Jim Courier, former world No. 1 and four-time Grand Slam singles champion
- "An iconic master in his own field, Christopher Clarey is the perfect writer to wrap up the gift that is Roger Federer's career. You're not going to get a better look into his life, personality, and character. Christopher got close but not too close to Roger to compromise his perspective on this great champion. He shows sides and layers of Roger through conversations and stories that we have never been privy to before. I have deep respect for Christopher's fair and thoughtful journalism."—Chris Evert, American former world No. 1 tennis player and winner of 18 Grand Slam singles championships
- "Christopher Clarey follows Roger Federer from insecure teen to mature champion who takes his family with him on the road and loves visiting new places. It takes a master to know a master. Among the many highlights of this valuable biography: informed glimpses of other great stars in Federer’s long career."—George Vecsey, New York Times sports columnist and bestselling author of MARTINA and LORETTA LYNN: COAL MINER'S DAUGHTER
- "Perhaps no athletic figure of the past half century has so thoroughly captured the imagination of the worldwide public quite like Roger Federer. In this compelling book, the cerebral Christopher Clarey takes us behind the scenes to examine Federer across the board and up close as a man of deep sensitivity, a champion of singular creativity and a transcendent sports figure."—Steve Flink, leading tennis historian and member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, author of THE GREATEST TENNIS MATCH OF ALL TIME
- “With the same elegance and excellence that defined Roger Federer’s great career, Christopher Clarey has chronicled the making of a legend. THE MASTER is a truly enjoyable deep dive into the qualities that set Federer apart from the rest.”—Mike Tirico, host of NBC Sports
- "Christopher Clarey, the longtime tennis correspondent for the New York Times and International Herald Tribune, has crafted a treat not just for Roger Federer fans, but for tennis aficionados who revel in behind-the-scenes details of life on the tour, strategy on the court and the evolution of a tennis star. From his various conversations with and about Federer over more than 20 years covering him, Clarey zeroes in on the formative places, people and matches in Federer’s journey to the top. Through his coaches, his friends, his rivals, his idols, and Federer himself, THE MASTER travels the world creating time capsules for a golden era of tennis."—Naila-Jean Meyers, former New York Times tennis editor
- "Magnificent. THE MASTER is awash in absorbing stories, history and assimilation, and the kind of insider insights that only Chris Clarey could provide. His words are as elegant and graceful as his subject."—Mary Carillo, Olympic correspondent and tennis analyst, NBC Sports
- "THE MASTER is a book we’ve been waiting for, for years. Clarey on Federer. A perfect match. The writer who for decades has documented Federer’s artistry with lyricism and insightfulness owed us this definitive portrait. But it is far from an anthology of Clarey’s greatest Federer hits. It instead delights with new revelations and fresh thoughts, from a writer uniquely qualified to deliver them. THE MASTER demonstrates clearly the mastery of both subject and author."—Jeremy Schaap, host of E:60 and Outside the Lines
- “A deeply reported and researched portrait of one of the greatest tennis players ever...A fine work of sports journalism, well worthy of its estimable subject.”—Kirkus
“Few writers could capture the evolution of Roger Federer’s ascent to the top of his sport from his start at age eight with more clarity and vision than New York Times tennis correspondent Clarey...A must-read for devoted tennis fans and everyone interested in athletes and the sports world.”—Booklist (starred review)
- “New York Times tennis correspondent Christopher Clarey makes the most of more than 20 years of journalistic access to Federer across six continents—experiences that include waiting for him in a chauffeured car outside a packed stadium match near Buenos Aires, tagging along on an early-morning private flight out of the California desert, brunching with the star before panoramic views of Lake Zurich."—The Washington Post
- “Deeply reported and crisply written…it’s a treat for those who love the sport and the men and women who play it at its demanding best.”—Wall Street Journal
- On Sale
- Aug 24, 2021
- Page Count
- 432 pages