May 22, 2022 7:51 pm

Djokovic, with eternity and sponsors in the air



Already in Serbia, hailed as a hero by his countrymen, Novak Djokovic He will spend a few days of rest and reflection, as he himself said, after two weeks of trials and retentions, outside of tennis and Australia, which expelled him for his anti-vaccine sentiment. A personal decision that not only leaves him without the Australian Open, where he has won more than anyone else (9 titles), but also distances him from his sporting goals. He crosses out an opportunity to fight for the 21st Grand Slam at Melbourne Park, but it could be the first of many, since the borders are closing and, therefore, the championships, due to the refusal to inoculate himself with the vaccine.

The anti-coronavirus regulations, as changeable as the virus itself, are increasingly applying the complete guideline for travel and competitions.

Yesterday, the French Sports Minister, Roxana Maracineanu, announced that the vaccination passport had been adopted: “As soon as the law is enacted, it will be mandatory to enter public spaces with the full guideline for all spectators, athletes and French or foreign professionals”, just ten days after noting that the Philippe Chatrier would be open for the Serbian. Sergio Palmieri, director of the Masters 1,000 in Rome, also pointed out that participants must follow state regulations, which also require them to be vaccinated. The solution that England and Wimbledon will adopt is still up in the air, although, for now, it makes the ten-day quarantine mandatory. Yes, Djokovic knows for sure that the United States will not let him step on his 1,000 Masters in Indian Wells and Miami, in March, nor Cincinnati in August, nor the US Open in September. Thus, and although José Luis Martínez-Almeida, mayor of Madrid, would celebrate the Serbian’s arrival at the Mutua Madrid Open, options to compete are closing; to rise above Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in that fight to reach the figures that no one has stepped on in the men’s circuit; to be the best.

Djokovic already has incomparable numbers, such as the 37 Masters 1,000 (one more than Nadal, nine more than Federer), or the 355 weeks at number 1, but this watchtower can also falter in this Grand Slam that he will see on television: Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev can knock him off the top if they win the tournament.

Image and numbers

They are not just numbers. Behind it is also hidden the cash prize that all these tournaments, trophies, records, pride represent. His loot is estimated at 190 million euros, 135 won with the racket. In 2021, with five titles (three Grand Slams, ATP 250 in Belgrade and Masters 1,000 in Paris), the Serb added 9 million euros on the track – if he won in Melbourne he would have earned 2.75 million. But 30 million more came from sponsors, notably Asics, Peugeot and Lacoste. Partners who can rethink the contract with the tennis player as their ability to compete around the world is limited. Hublot, the watch brand that has sponsored it since last year, is firm: “Hublot will continue its sponsorship with the number 1 tennis player,” a company spokeswoman told AFP. Others are not as secure. “As soon as possible, we will contact Djokovic to review the events that have occurred,” Lacoste announced yesterday, with whom his contract ends in 2022. The Raiffeisen bank recalled that his relationship with the tennis player is “prior to the information about his situation about vaccination and his participation in the Australian Open. We will closely monitor his case.”

For comparison, in 2021, Roger Federer played thirteen matches, won nine and lost four. He did not raise any trophy; He took just over half a million euros. He was the tennis player who entered the most: 77 million. Nadal won two titles, 24 games, 1.3 million euros on court, 22.83 in total.

The triumphs are not everything in the economic aspect. It has cost Djokovic more than his rivals to catch the big brands. It took him eight months to find a replacement for Seiko, which brought him 4.5 million annually and with whom he broke the agreement in January 2021, Hublot did not arrive until August. And from Australia it takes a stain on its image, at least, by those who do not support its position of not vaccinating. “His image is going to be affected by this situation, since most of the tennis players who play this tournament have been vaccinated and have respected the rules,” says Josh Schwartz, head of sports marketing at the Pivot agency, from the United States. . “It’s close to setting the Grand Slam record, and normally when someone reaches that status, you can think of it leading to opportunities to attract more sponsors. But I don’t imagine they will happen any time soon,” says Patrick Rishe, professor of sports economics at Washington University in Saint Louis. Doors that close for Djokovic, on the court and off it.

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