I love, love Jon Wertheim, not least because he answers my emails and gave my blog some big-time props in his Tennis Mailbag column last year. But what I really admire him for is his writing, and I’m thrilled to learn that he’s working on a book about the Federer-Nadal rivalry, with last week’s Wimbledon final at its heart. I’m betting on a Wimby ’09 release! Here’s the scoop from Publisher’s Weekly:
Dubbed “the greatest match I’ve ever seen” by John McEnroe, Sunday’s nearly five-hour Wimbledon final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal was almost immediately declared a historic moment in sports. Luckily for Houghton Mifflin one of their top sports authors, under contract to do a tennis book, was in the stands reporting from the All England Club. Now the house has a jump on a title about a sports moment that wowed more than just tennis fans.
L. Jon Wertheim, who wrote a cover story about the match for this week’s issue of Sports Illustrated, has signed to deliver Strokes of Genius for 2009. According to Wertheim’s editor, Susan Canavan, the book came out of “one of those rare moments” when you have a writer who’s very much in the right place at the right time.
Wertheim, who regularly writes for SI, was already in negotiations to do a tennis book for the house. And although he’s cut a wide swath as a sports writer–in January Houghton will release his book on mixed martial arts, Blood in the Cage, which follows the 2007 release, Running the Table, about a New Jersey pool hustler–Wertheim’s main beat is tennis. That’s why he and Canavan had already established that his next book would be on the subject. The idea, hatched by Canavan, Wertheim and his agent Scott Waxman, was to examine a single match played Federer in order to get at, as Canavan put it, “the science, the art, the psychology, technology and personality” that come together on the court.
Strokes of Genius will be very similar, but with more space devoted to the Nadal-Federer rivalry and the culmination of it at the Wimbledon final. Canavan said Wertheim will “get inside” the players’ heads and examine their different styles of play. “We were always hoping [the match he covered] would be against Nadal” she said.
Peter Bodo reported on this book in his Tennis World blog last week (click here and check out the photo of Rog!), but at the time he described the book as a Roger Federer biography – a “book on and about The Mighty Fed” and an “exploration of the man, the game, and the overall milieu of pro tennis circa 2008.” So I’m thinking the book will use the Wimbledon final as its timely raison d’etre, but have a Fed-centric take. At least I hope so.
Click here to read Jon’s recent guest blog appearance at Tennis World.
Here’s a question for everyone: have you ever read a book about tennis (biography or otherwise)? I never have, but would love some recommendations!