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Summary

A major biography of the greatest men's tennis player of the modern era.

There have been other biographies of Roger Federer, but never one with this kind of access to the man himself, his support team, and the most prominent figures in the game, including such rivals as Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Andy Roddick. In The Master, New York Times correspondent Christopher Clarey sits down with Federer and those closest to him to tell the story of the greatest player in men's tennis.

Roger Federer has often made it look astonishingly easy through the decades: carving backhands, gliding to forehands, leaping for overheads, and, in his most gravity-defying act, remaining high on a pedestal in a world of sports rightfully flooded with cynicism. But his path from temperamental bleach-blond teenager with dubious style sense to one of the greatest, most self-possessed, and elegant of competitors has been a long-running act of will, not destiny. He not only had a great gift. He had grit.

Christopher Clarey, one of the top international sportswriters working today, has covered Federer since the beginning of his professional career. He was in Paris on the Suzanne Lenglen Court for Federer's first Grand Slam match and has interviewed him exclusively more than any other journalist since his rise to prominence. Here, Clarey focuses on the pivotal people, places, and moments in Federer's long and rich career: reporting from South Africa, South America, the Middle East, four Grand Slam tournaments, and Federer's native Switzerland. It has been a journey like no other player's, rife with victories and a few crushing defeats, one that has redefined enduring excellence and made Federer a sentimental favorite worldwide.

The Master tells the story of Federer's life and career on both an intimate and grand scale, in a way no one else could possibly do.

©2021 Christopher Clarey (P)2021 Twelve

Critic reviews

"Roger Federer is the most beautiful and balletic player I've ever seen. In this entertaining and deeply researched book, Christopher Clarey, the top tennis writer of today, tells the story of how Federer became one of our sport's greatest champions and how much harder it was than he made it look." (Billie Jean King, former world number one professional tennis player)

“With the same elegance and excellence that defined Roger Federer’s great career, Christopher Clarey has chronicled the making of a legend. The Master is a truly enjoyable deep dive into the qualities that set Federer apart from the rest.” (Mike Tirico, host of NBC Sports)

“A deeply reported and researched portrait of one of the greatest tennis players ever.... A fine work of sports journalism, well worthy of its estimable subject.” (Kirkus)

What listeners say about The Master

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Great

So good only took me a week to listen to the whole thing. Great book detailing Roger Federer, both his professional career and his years as a teen and junior, and everything in between. Also lots of great insights about his rivals Hewitt, Safin, Djokovic and Nadal etc.

Narrator does use some dubious accents when mimicking other speakers, but you get used to it. Enjoyed the narration aside from this

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Profile Image for S. Armour
  • S. Armour
  • 27-08-21

Roger, voiced by Schwarzenegger

Somebody somewhere listened to Kiff VandenHuevel's bizarre, Austrian-inflected mangling of Roger Federer's Swiss accent and said, "Yeah! Do that!" Not unlike whoever told the Captain of the Titanic, "Go fast through the icebergs!" It's a shame because by FAR the best part of this book is hearing what Roger has to say about himself. But if you're going to inflict this audiobook on your ears, be prepared for a sonic catalogue of people not sounding remotely like themselves. Christopher Clarey himself has a remarkably listenable speaking voice. If only he had voiced his own book.

As for the book itself, it's not what most Federer fans were hoping for, I suspect. Roger, as we know, cloaks his thoughts in all sorts of nice-guy evasions and defusing language. He would never say, "Yeah, I can't stand Novak." The only way to parse out his true feelings is to read, very carefully, between the lines. Clarey doesn't even attempt it. Instead, he quotes him at length, quotes others at length, and we wind up knowing pretty much everything we knew before the book started: Roger is great, most everybody likes him, he's freakishly optimistic, energetic and emotional, and rich as all hell.

But if you're seeking a deeper understanding of how a person becomes Roger Federer, how you might adapt some of what Roger has done to become Roger, you won't find it here. As a young man, he worked with a sports psychologist. What did they do together? Neither of them will say, and Clarey doesn't dig deeper. Roger's parents were nice, if bland. His wife is strong, if prickly. His coaches are wide-eyed and respectful and would rather you ask somebody else.

Clarey says, oddly, that Djokovic is easily the most interesting of the Big Three (Federer, Nadal, Djokovic), which makes me wonder why he didn't write a book about him. If anything, this book proves Federer is the most interesting because he remains, even now, an enigma: a man of deep feeling who presents himself as all surface, a man of drive and fierce competition who presents himself as the ultimate good sport, a citizen of the world who presents himself as Swiss in every respect.

Perhaps we'll never know him. The great book about him is still to be written. If it ever is, for god's sake, let the author read it.

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  • Truffles
  • 31-08-21

Please no fake German accent!!!!

How could they let the narrator speak in a fake German accent when quoting Federer?!!! Now I won’t be able to look at Federer again without hearing this dreadful voice!

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  • MEDL
  • 29-08-21

Very engaging

As a Rafa fan, I was still very interested in this book and appreciated the unique perspective the author brought to this incredible era of tennis. My only slight complaint would be that the narrator used some somewhat odd accents in embodying the various personalities, but I became used to these choices over time.

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  • Imran Siddiqui
  • 28-08-21

Ahhhhhnoold Federer

Nice story for tennis fans but the accent this narrator uses when speaking as Roger sounds like Arnold Schwarzenegger lmao it’s distracting and hilarious. Please re-record!

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  • Brian Howell
  • 13-10-21

Profoundly uninteresting

Written only for the devout tennis fan. This biography lingers too much on the stats and highlights of Federers career. It fails to develop a narrative that justifies it's length. Author spends too much time on his own meandering through Federers career this book comes across as a self indulgent fanboy project.

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  • Jason
  • 24-09-21

Fantastic book

The writing was amazing, Christopher made me feel like I was at the matches. The narration is top notch. I really enjoyed the book.

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  • CStephens
  • 17-09-21

Excellent Story

The author gave personal behind-the-scene glances at Roger Federer's amazing tennis career that I found inspiring and endearing.

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  • Josh
  • 15-09-21

The star all others are measured against

The accents are wild just speed up the audio and you are good to go

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  • Darren Sapp
  • 15-09-21

Legend

A fantastic and full biography (so far) of a legend that is still going. More to come.