Hi everyone!! What a fun month it’s been for us Fedfans! From lifting title number 100 in Dubai, to then being a whisker away from the title at Indian Wells, to then being a whisker away from losing in the first round to a qualifier, to then hoisting the Miami trophy yet again!
Since there’s a while to go before the clay swing, I asked Jonathan if I could share something that I’ve been working on over the last few years – a book that describes Roger Federer from a fan’s perspective.
A few of these writings you might have already read on this very blog (thank you, Jonathan) – “Breaking down the Fedal rivalry”, “The second serve analysis”, and more recently, “Debunking the weak era argument”; most of the others, I’d been scared to share with the world… up until I found a group of the most fantastic people on this blog who shared the same passion, were just as crazy and had managed to create an environment that I genuinely enjoyed coming back to every day.
A while ago, I got the idea to involve the entire Federer fan community in the project. It was, after all, a book that described a fan's perspective on Roger Federer. I got the idea of involving the community from this blog itself.
What Jonathan has created here isn’t just a website or a blog…it’s become something of a family. It’s a place we’ve come to celebrate, a place we’ve come to commiserate, a place we’ve come to vent when Federer sends yet another second serve return into the net on break point and a place we’ve come to just be around people who share the same passions.
To Steal an Excerpt From the Book
I should begin by admitting that I’m no professional sports writer, as you’ll soon figure out for yourself. Unfortunately, I don’t have access to closed-door secrets or exclusive interviews (or anything that can’t really be found on the internet by the average tennis enthusiast for that matter). What I do have is the company of some of the most wonderful, kind and passionate tennis fans one can hope to find. Fans, who I was introduced to when I stumbled upon www.perfect-tennis.com. Fans who helped me in making this a book by us fans for us fans, about a topic that we’re (possibly) unhinged-ly passionate about – tennis and Roger Federer.
If you haven’t chanced upon this fantastic community, I suggest you drop whatever it is you’re doing right this instant and give Jonathan’s website a visit. I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that you’re a tennis aficionado if you’ve gotten this far, in which case you’ll love the blog. It’s far better written than my attempt at tennis-prose.
Now that’s out of the way, and expectations have been justifiably tempered, allow me to tell you how this book came about. I never began with the intention of writing a ‘book’ per se. I’ve loved tennis ever since I picked it up at boarding school – everything about it really – the individual element, the one-on-one dynamic, the physical aspect to the sport, the mental side to it. I wasn’t very good at it as a kid though. I put it down to my late growth spurt.
By the time I got to college, I began to fill out my t-shirts. All of a sudden tennis became a lot more fun when I wasn’t the one being made to do all the running. The hours spent playing tennis in college with two of my best friends, shanked backhands, fist-pumps et al, went on to form some of my fondest memories. Most of our college classmates (or Stephanians as we call ourselves) thought we were out of our minds to even consider playing under the blazing Delhi sun in peak summer (trust me, it’s hot!). But we loved it! I spent most of my time on the court trying to imitate Federer. Unfortunately, the only thing I managed to nail was his backhand shank. That I had gotten down to a t.
As college life gave way to corporate life, it became harder and harder to slot out time for tennis. So obviously, like all rational adults, I made up for it by playing imaginary tennis matches in my head (where I’d won a record 20 grand slams and had magnanimously decided to call it a day so as not to break any more records). I also began to write about tennis. It originally began as just a collection of quips about my biggest influence – Federer on the tennis court; rants that I would write when the occasional bout of inspiration struck, more often than not at 2 in the night – writings that I would relegate to the confines of my hard drive, in fear lest they find themselves traumatizing an unsuspecting reader.
About a year in and I realized that I had penned down nearly 100 pages worth of Federer material, analyses and commentary – ranging from his rivalries, his (unenviable) break point conversion rates, his achievements (which to be honest took up a lot of the word count), to his fashion sense and off court charity work, with the occasional mathematical analysis thrown in for good measure. (I was a management consultant at McKinsey and Company, and I figured that I should leverage my analytical skills to keep myself from getting too rusty in that department). It was around then that I got the idea of putting all these pieces of prose together in the form of some kind of book that I could share with the tennis community.
But there was something still missing. Sport can never just be about something singular. You need two or more people to play, be it taking on your best friend in one-on-one street basketball, pretending not to celebrate as your opponent’s forehand sails over the fence for the tenth consecutive time, or getting tossed to the judo mat. You need two or more teams to compete. And at higher levels, sport is nothing without its fans. That’s the magic of sport. At its best, it can bring people together like few things out there. It can overcome race, sex, political affiliations and can, ever so often, bridge the gap between the ‘pineapple on pizza’ factions. Tennis is no different.
Us tennis fans are a passionate bunch, and during my time spent trawling through tennis forums, I came to realize that each one of us had a story or an experience that had brought us to tennis or made us fans of a particular player. Stories that you’d never find on the Internet. Stories that were unpolished, flawed but at the same time very, very real. I believe that it’s these stories that make tennis such a magical sport and I knew at once that I wanted this book to be an effort that brought fans from all walks of life together and shared their journeys. And to the best of my abilities, that is what I have tried to do.
So that’s a short snippet from the book. Hopefully, this helped in giving you an idea of the content. I would absolutely love for you to get involved in this book. If you have anything you'd like to contribute, please send it in and I promise to try to fit it in somewhere. It could be a letter to Federer, a story about how he’s influenced you, a poem, a technical analysis, something funny – these are just a few ideas. While the book is pretty close to being complete, I’d love to add in a few more stories. My first book was published by one of India’s largest publishing houses two months ago, and I’m considering approaching publishing houses with this one as well.
I’d love to hear from you! If you’d like to send something in or ask me any questions, I can be reached on [email protected]
Thanks once again, Jonathan! You’re the best!