Strokes of Genius: Federer, Nadal, and the Greatest Match Ever Played available June 4th

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Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal represent the most dynamic rivalry not just in tennis but in all of contemporary sport, and their epic 2008 Wimbledon final match set a new standard for tennis excellence. From a unique inside vantage point, one of America’s best tennis writers, L. Jon Wertheim, provides a riveting and provocative account of this rivalry through the prism of that defining contest.

On July 6, 2008, two compelling athletes met on Wimbledon’s Centre Court in the men’s final and served up a seminal event in tennis. Roger Federer was on track to take his rightful place as the most dominant player in the history of the game. The Wimbledon champ for five years running, Federer needed only to sustain his trajectory. But in the fading daylight it was his rival, the swashbuckling Spaniard Rafael Nadal, who met the moment. Their captivating match was, according to the author, “essentially a four-hour forty-eight-minute infomercial for everything that is right about tennis — a festival of skill, accuracy, grace, strength, speed, endurance, determination, and sportsmanship.” It was also the encapsulation of a fascinating and textured rivalry, hard fought and of historic proportions.

In the tradition of John McPhee’s Levels of the Game, Strokes of Genius deconstructs this defining event, using it as the backbone of a provocative, entertaining look at the art, psychology, technology, strategy, and personality that go into a single tennis match. With vivid, intimate detail, Wertheim re-creates this epic battle in a book that is both a study of the mechanics and art of the game and the portrait of a rivalry as dramatic as that of Ali-Frazier, Palmer-Nicklaus, and McEnroe-Borg.

L. JON WERTHEIM is a senior writer for Sports Illustrated and the author of five books, including Blood in the Cage, a chronicle of the rise of mixed martial arts, and Running the Table, about a bipolar pool hustler named Kid Delicious, which has been optioned for film by Tom Hanks’s Playtone and is currently in development. His work has been featured in The Best American Sports Writing numerous times.


“Imagine a world heavyweight championship fight in a cathedral.  Jon Wertheim brings one back to nail-biting-life in Strokes of Genius.  His stirring blow-by-blow (and behind the scenes) account of the 2008 collision of Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal in the tennis temple — Wimbledon’s Centre Court — illuminates a kingdom changing hands.  An engrossing book, Nadal over Federer overseen by Wertheim makes an unforgettable trio.” — Bud Collins


“Compelling . . . Hardcore tennis fans will revel in Wertheim’s expertise and his proximity to the players and their event; others can’t help but be attracted to a vision of two champions and a rivalry in their prime.” — Booklist, starred review


“Wertheim has not only given that glorious moment in tennis history the precise kind of literary treatment it merits, but he has done more than that. Writing with clarity and superb interpretive insight, conveying a depth of appreciation for both players that few of his peers could equal, building drama across chapter after chapter, Wertheim does a masterful job of allowing all of us to revisit an incomparable occasion . . . Compelling and penetrating . . . An honorable piece of work, one that will appeal across the board to fans, and one that will enhance the landscape of tennis literature.” –


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