- Former Nike Director Mike Nakajima says Djokovic always has a cloud of bad luck
- He adds that self-inflicted controversies only harm his image
- Most sponsors shy away from working with controversial tennis players
Former tennis boss at American sportswear firm Nike Mike Nakajima has weighed in on the future that Novak Djokovic has in his career and his ability to attract sponsors.
Although Nakajima recognised that Djokovic might end up being the greatest successful tennis player of all time, he was blunt on the fact that world No.1 always has a cloud of bad luck hanging over him.
He explained that in most cases, Djokovic brings bad luck on himself and it is a big turn-off.
“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,” Nakajima posed during an interview with CNN hosted by Simon Graf and Simon Cambers.
Cambers and Graf co-wrote a book, The Roger Federer Effect which highlights the highs and lows of Federer’s tennis career. It also focuses on his biggest competitors, Rafael Nadal and Djokovic.
Nakajima said with such scandals, most sponsors will shy away from working with Djokovic.
According to Forbes, Djokovic now a 22-time Grand Slam champion after winning the 2023 Australian Open made $20 million in 2022 through sponsorship and endorsement deals.
In contrast, Federer earned $90 million from endorsement and commercial deals despite participating in only one double’s match at Laver Cup before retiring.
Retrospectively, Nadal made $25 million from endorsement and sponsorship deals for the year and Nakajima feels that Djokovic has a lot to learn from Federer.
He praised Nadal’s reputation throughout his career saying that he has a likeable demeanour and people love him for that. But as much as he earned more than Djokovic in 2022, he still can’t match Federer’s earnings for the year despite him not playing for in the 2022 ATP Tour calendar.
Following his standoff with Australian Border Officials over non-vaccination and a mix-up with his Visa at the 2022 Australian Open, Peugeot dropped its sponsorship.
Earlier on Peugeot had affirmed its continued support for the Serbian tennis star but had a change of heart after the Melbourne fiasco.
There were also doubts about his other sponsor, Lacoste who issued a statement after his deportation from Australia in 2022.
The company said that it would reach out to Djokovic and review what happened in Australia. Luckily, Lacoste stayed by his side through 2022, the most difficult year in his career.
Lacoste is Djokovic’s biggest sponsor with $9.4 million (€8 million) a year. It provides his sporting outfit and a line of Djokovic-branded apparel known as the Novak Djokovic collection.
He signed the deal with the French company in 2017 for five years and is looking at renewal in 2023 now that most Covid-19 rules are relaxed.
With Peugeot gone, Djokovic doesn’t have a lot of sponsors with him. But, Seiko Watch Corporation, NetJets, and Ultimate Software Group are still with him.
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