Former tennis director at Nike, Mike Nakajima, acknowledged Novak Djokovic may end up as the most successful tennis player of all time but noted “there is always a dark cloud” around the Serb. Djokovic, a 22-time Grand Slam champion, earned $20 million from sponsorship and endorsement deals in 2022, Forbes estimated.
Roger Federer, who played in just one doubles match last year, collected $90 million from sponsorship and endorsement deals. “He could well be the most successful tennis player ever. But there’s always a dark cloud around him.
It’s like he brings it upon himself. He hits the lineswoman at the US Open (in 2020) and gets disqualified? It happens, I guess. But why does it always happen to Novak? Or the whole controversy about the Covid-19 vaccination.
Now, as a brand: do I want to be behind somebody who always has controversy around him? Or do I want to go with an athlete with a squeaky clean image?” Nakajima told Simon Cambers and Simon Graf of CNN.
Why Djokovic, Rafael Nadal are not close to Federer in the marketing aspect
Per Forbes, Nadal earned $25 million from sponsorship and endorsement deals last year.
Throughout his career, Nadal has enjoyed a very strong reputation and has been one of the most likable players in tennis history. But Nadal has also never been close to Federer when it comes to earnings from sponsorship and endorsement deals.
“I’m not sure Rafa wants to be the highest-paid endorser in the world. I don’t think he cares. Rafa is Rafa, he has done extremely well and I don’t think he needs anything else. Roger wanted to be marketed, so he appealed to different brands, audiences and consumer groups.
And his management company’s done an amazing job,” Nakajima said. Meanwhile, Federer finished his career with 20 Grand Slams. After winning this year’s Australian Open, Djokovic tied Nadal on the all-time Grand Slam record list with 22 Grand Slams.
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