For two years there have been more new books on Roger Federer than new Federer matches. This was especially expected, primarily because nine months passed between the release of its original English version just before the US Open, and its French translation (provided by Suzy Borello), published by Flammarion on the approach to Roland-Garros. Meanwhile, word of mouth had said the best, which is not surprising considering its author, and this is the second reason for this impatience: Christopher Clarey, who has been covering the show for over twenty-five years. sport and especially tennis. New York Newshe is one of the journalists who knows Federer best.
Getting a long and exclusive interview with the “Master” is worth a Grand Slam victory for a tennis journalist, and Christopher Clarey has the trajectory of a Christmas or a Djokovic with more than twenty individual encounters with the Basel player, often in incongruous. places: behind a car, runway, private jet, alpine restaurant, palace suite. “Roger gave these interviews to New York News“Not to me,” he says. The profession, necessarily a little jealous, thanks him for always making the best use of this privilege.
From English to French, his book – a true sum of nearly 600 pages – lost its subtitle (The Master. Roger Federer’s Long Run and Nice Game) focus on the unique name of your object of study, written in green and purple, the colors of Wimbledon. There is in this choice the will to be as complete as possible and, perhaps, the ambition to consider itself as the reference work on the subject. This goal can be considered achieved.
“They wanted to contribute something”
Clarey’s great merit is that she didn’t settle for tens of hours of interviews, hundreds of covered tournaments, and thousands of watched matches. He interviewed “80 or 82” tennis personalities, former coaches, family members, opponents, agents, commentators. Their testimonials are often fascinating, because they have perspective and because there is less interest in telling a final story. “Great champions are sometimes reluctant to talk about their opponents, but Roger left a mark on each of them,” said Christopher Clarey. Andy Roddick, in particular, wanted to contribute something. Pete Sampras and Marat Safin too. “
If the biography of this dual, trilingual nationality, partially settled in Dubai, knighted by Wimbledon and emotionally close to Australia, could only be captured by places (Ecublens, Biel / Bienne, Melbourne, New York, Paris, Lille) , the story of the years 1997-2003 is especially instructive. “I did not intend to stop so much, but this period came to light during my interviews, in particular with Christian Marcolli. [le psychologue qui l’a aidé entre 1998 et 2000] and Régis Brunet [son premier agent], said Clarey. Roger’s progression to the heights was a rather long process and, in retrospect, very fragile. We knew it when it came to tennis; we discover it, I think, also on an economic and personal level.
Roger Federer’s financial prosperity owes much to his encounter with Tony Godsick, who was able to put some order into contracts sometimes far below the real value of the one who was already world number one but who trusted the defense of his interests to his father. Her emotional stability, family happiness, and personal fulfillment owe it all to Mirka, a central but absent character, as she has been for more than ten years for everyone, even Chris Clarey. “Obviously it’s a hole in the book not to have her, because she’s a smart woman who should teach us a lot,” laments the author.
A big loser
Through Federer, Christopher Clarey also recounts the evolution of tennis over the past twenty-five years, recalls rivalries that are now somewhat forgotten but important with Lleyton Hewitt or Andy Roddick, brilliantly analyzes how Novak Djokovic won a point during the 2011. US Open, and how Rafael Nadal always tried to get it back “because harassment excited him more than murder.”
Party stories take a secondary place, except when they have been important. They are often defeats … “Roger Federer is clearly one of the best players in the history of tennis, but in the finals he is also a big loser,” said Christopher Clarey. But that also contributed to his popularity: people saw him as vulnerable, very human, not hiding his feelings. “The most-experienced-journalist-Federer is still marked by two characteristics:” his empathy, his ability to feel others, the atmospheres, to be curious, and his chameleon face, his ability to adapt ”.
Roger Federer, by Christopher Clarey. Flammarion, May 2022, 590 pages. Price: about 36 francs.