Title: Rafa Nadal: The King of the Court
Author: Dominic Bliss
Publisher: Ivy Press
Genre: Biography
Book format: Digital pre-publication copy of hardback
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Description:  This book is the complete guide to one of the greatest tennis players of the 21st century, winner of 22 grand slam men’s singles titles, and undisputed King of the tennis court, Spain’s raging bull, Rafael Nadal.
This fully illustrated biography charts his journey to the top, from his early days being coached by his uncle Toni in Mallorca and dreaming of being a professional footballer, through his early tournament career, turning professional, his first senior ATP win, first grand slam win at Roland Garros, first Wimbledon win and first Olympic gold medal and record breaking 21st Grand Slam win.
Written by Dominic Bliss, a veteran tennis journalist who has followed Nadal’s career closely both on and off the court, this biography tracks Rafa’s journey from painfully shy pin-up boy to senior statesman on the ATP Tour who continues to conquer worldwide, most recently claiming his 14th Roland Garros and 22nd Grand Slam title at the French Open in June 2022.
Structured around 10 key matches in his long career, it takes readers from his first national junior championship win at age 14 (when he played with the pain of a broken finger on his racquet hand) through to his 21st Grand Slam title in January 2022, where he came back from two sets down to defeat Daniil Medvedev in an epic 5-set match.
From his need for water bottles to be arranged ‘a certain way’ on the court, to his charity work raising $17 million to help the Red Cross’ efforts to support those impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, this book examines every angle of Rafa as a human being, a model athlete, a serial winner. This definitive work on one of tennis’ all time greats is not to be missed!

*Free copy provided by publisher and NetGalley for review…

Review:  This is a great and interesting book about the tennis legend, with insights into his gameplay, and information on his past, phobias, and some of his most important tennis matches to date. I’ve enjoyed watching Rafael Nadal play tennis ever since the mid-2000s and this book does a good job of charting his successes and rise into the number one spot in tennis with some interesting information about him which I hadn’t read about before.

Rafa Nadal The King of the Court book page image one
Image of double page of digital copy I read

The book is split into chapters talking about Rafa’s early years, his life in Mallorca and all about his tennis, his left-handed playing, family, through to details on his legacy and beyond. Each chapter is interesting with lots of good information about Rafa Nadal which for someone like me who hasn’t read much about his past, was interesting from the start. His early life and how much Mallorca means to him was interesting to read. I especially found the information about his uncle Toni fascinating. I had no idea how tough he was on Rafa training him as Rafa grew up, and it was good to read all about his early life and how his family support helped to shape the man he is today.

The chapters are filled with lots of text but also lots of photographs displayed throughout the pages. I have only read the digital version of this book which unfortunately had a few issues with the formatting of the text, but I imagine a book with so many photos inside to be made of glossy pages which help the images to stand out. I like how we learn more about Rafa and how his unique playing style on the tennis court. There’s actual detail describing every aspect of his different strokes in tennis, and how they help him win so many matches. The chapters go into details about some of his most important and famous matches too, detailing what happened in each match and how Rafa managed to win despite sometimes facing some really tough opponents.

Rafa Nadal The King of the Court book page image two
Image of page of digital copy I read

Throughout the book, there are also pages with some infographs. Charts and images helping us to understand some aspects of Rafa’s game play or some interesting tennis stats when compared to other players. I found some of these interesting on the whole, although I have to say that in the digital copy I read, a couple of these were left without key information on what I was looking at making a couple of the charts confusing to look at for me.

While I enjoyed reading about Nadal’s matches what I loved more is learning about his personal life off the courit, things like his life in Mallorca, how down to earth he is, and even his phobias and rituals which have been a famous part of him every time he takes to the court. I like how we find out about more of the rituals he does rather than just the way he has to touch certain parts of his clothes of face and hair or the famous water bottles being lined up. There is also some interesting insight into a few other famous sport stars and what rituals they do too. This chapter was interesting for me as I didn’t know Rafa was so worried about so many things.

As the book draws to an end we find out more about his family, girlfriend ( now wife) and some final speculation on Rafa’s future in the game. I have to say that I did enjoy reading this book as I hadn’t read anything about Rafa before, however I don’t know if this would be such an insightful or interesting book for someone who maybe has read lots of interviews about him or read his autobiography, as some reviewers have pointed out. However this book does well in showing you the life of the sports star and why he is so much loved today! There are interesting things to learn for those who, like me, haven’t read too much about Nadal before. There are also some lovely photographs throughout which help break up the text and I found the writing style to be really interesting, in fact so interesting I read this book all in one day!

Rafa Nadal The King of the Court book page image three
Image of page of digital copy I read

Overall it’s an interesting biography about this tennis legend and it’s a book I’d certainly recommend to those who don’t know that much about Rafa’s life or his tennis. It’s a good book and one I wouldn’t mind owning in physical format, especially as the digital pre-publication version I read clearly had some issues with the text which I doubt is in the final version of this book. Overall a nice read and one for anyone interested in knowing more about Rafa, especially if you haven’t read his autobiography before!

What do you think of this book?  Do you like reading biographies?  Let me know waht you think in the comments below 🙂