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The only sport I've ever really enjoyed watching and following regularly is tennis which I follow throughout the year. My interest in the sport has increased even more recently as my favourite player Andy Murray has done so well. Although I do have my favourite player it's hard not to simply support whichever player is playing better tennis and when players win trophy after trophy you have to respect them for the champions they are. Raphael Nadal is one of these historic and iconic champions and it's always wonderful to see him play. One of the best players in the current era (and arguably the best ever player), Nadal released this biography in 2011, with John Carlin a contributing force to the writing. The composition of the book is interesting. Throughout the whole book Nadal talks us through his epic 2008 Wimbledon final with Roger Federer. Interspersed throughout this match account are chapters that slowly reveal the story of Nadal's life - from childhood to current day. Nadal's family and friends are candid with their revelations so that by the end of the book you feel like you have really gotten to know Rafa the man as well as Rafa the tennis player. Even if you are a casual tennis fan you probably remember the epic 2008 Wimbledon final where Nadal (ranked 2) took on the master that is Roger Federer (ranked 1) and won. It was a long, dramatic match which some people and tennis experts now call the best match in tennis history. Nadal's memory or retelling of the match is pretty intricate and he refers to the game in technical terms as much as how he was dealing with it emotionally. I would have thought that unless you are an avid tennis fan you might sometimes feel overwhelmed by the detailed references to almost every important tennis shot played during the match. It is pumped with excitement and tension though, since Nadal is able to slow down and heighten the drama of each shot with his words and memories. Learning about Nadal's upbringing and how he got involved with tennis was something I found very touching. I really didn't know much about Nadal's history until I read this book and once I did I felt I could more appreciate everything he brings to the court with him. The explanations of Nadal's relationship with his Uncle Toni is interesting and revealing, as are the cultural ideals and patterns of his Majorcan family. I recently read Andre Agassi's biography and felt there was a lot of similarities to how both men were molded into future champions at an early age. It is sometimes quite difficult to read about some of the painful lessons Nadal had to learn as a child to be where he is today. When you find out what Nadal experienced as a youth you can understand why, despite winning countless grand slams, each win is as equally important to him. There are also some curious details about Nadal's unusual obsessional behaviour during match play. If you've ever watched Nadal on court you can't fail to notice his touching the hair, nose and shorts 'routine' prior to every serve, for instance. Every intricate detail that is revealed about this player makes him seem more unique and fascinating. There are also many pages of colour photographs in the book which show Nadal as a young lad to the moment he wins some historic matches. These are lovely to see as they remind you of the red hot passion and sporting intelligence of this talented player. After reading this book I really feel more appreciative of this player whenever he steps onto court. Knowing where someone comes from and what they have done to get where they are really makes you respect and admire them even more than you did before. This is a must read for any tennis fan and even if you casually follow the sport you would no doubt find Nadal's life story compelling.