Thursday, September 27, 2007

Fantastic Federer - A good read

As I entered a 35 year old Air India aircraft headed for Kolkata, it felt like stepping back into the 18th century. All other things excluded, I soon realized that without that modern and very essential amenity;the personal TV Panel;it was going to be a big challenge for an inflight-insomniac like me to spend all of 9 hrs aboard that pre-historic ship. Thanks to Chris Bowers' book, things turned out to be better! The book, as the title suggests is a biography of Roger Federer; updated till 2006. It is not - by any stretch of imagination - a classic, but without any input from Federer himself, Bowers, a tennis journalist, has compiled an interesting piece of sports literature. Things are probably made easier by the fact that his subject is Roger Federer, but then again, it could have ended up being as matter of fact as some of Federer's victories! Instead we get interesting insight and anecdotes from people close to him; friends Yves Allegro and Marco Chiudinelli, his first coach Seppli Kacovsky and many other people who were witness to the moulding of this great champion.It also gives a poignant account of his relationship with Peter Carter, the Australian coach, who had the most influence on Federer during his budding years. Federer's eventful association with the Swiss Davis Cup team is also well documented. Bowers has presented a reasonably researched acccount of Federer's childhood and adolescence, and has throughout the book, maintained a fine balance between Federer the boy (man) and Federer the prodigy (champion). Setting the narrative against the backdrop of Swiss tennis as a whole, adds to the flavour of the book. A few pictures - especially one in which Federer dyed his hair blonde for the Orange Bowl - speak louder than words about the evolution of Federer as we see him on court now. I would prefer to leave the negatives to the reader because it totally depends on what you expect from an unofficial biography such as this.As for me, I got more than I bargained for. My dwindling reading habit meant that I took more time to finish the book than I would have, say 10 years back. And interspersed with meals and short naps, it saved me the travails of sitting through the seemingly endless flight.


Blogger Amit Panhale said...

I still sort of dislike the prospect of reading a biographical or autobiographical account of a sportsperson still in his/her playing days.

12:20 AM  

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