Tennis News Wire -
It appears that No. 1 Novak Djokovic has signed with the Japanese company Uniqlo ending a three-year relationship with clothing and footwear manufacturer Sergio Tacchini.
There are some reports that say that Djokovic will wear shirts with Uniqlo logo at Roland Garros. Uniqlo, which is a subsidiary of Fast Retailing Co., also sponsors Japan's top-ranked player Kei Nishikori.
Uniqlo has 99 stores in Tokyo, 840 throughout Japan and 200 stores around the world, including one ?on Fifth Avenue in New York that is over 8,000 square meters.
Djokovic had been wearing the gear of the firm, founded by a former Italian player, for several seasons after being cut loose by adidas in favor of Andy Murray.
In a statement, Tacchini said that Djokovic “has outgrown the Italian brand" (likely a code for the fact his asking price was now too high to afford), and that it is "offering Djokovic the opportunity to take on new challenges and new sponsors who can keep pace with him in his fast-track career."
"We have worked together, with a constant exchange of ideas, suggestions, and tweaks for technical improvements; we have dealt with difficulties and rejoiced in triumph together. It was exciting to collaborate with a champion and man of such great personality as Novak Djokovic," said Janny Tang, Vice President of Sergio Tacchini International.
Djokovic's move has been rumored for months. Although he signed a 10-year deal with Tacchini in 2009, the company had a hard time keeping up with his line and was often late delivering products to retailers, especially in the U.S., which is the biggest market for tennis clothes.
CNBC is reporting that Tacchini was also late on payments to him.
Some retailers complained that even when the Djokovic line arrived they were generally too expensive.
Perhaps the thing that most amazed insiders was Tacchini's inability to capitalize on the Serbian's success and massive popularity since the start of 2011, when he has captured four majors. He was believed to be Tacchini’s only endorsed player.
Added Djokovic in a statement: "I am proud to have been their brand ambassador for the past couple of years. We had great success together and I have only good memories of working with its team of people. Sergio Tacchini is a company with great tennis tradition and it supported many tennis champions."
“In order to become a big brand, you have to get lucky and sign a rock star,” Greg Wolf of Midwest Sports told CNBC. “They did that. That’s the easy part. But they can’t keep paying him if they don’t know how to backfill the product.”
Tacchini has a long history in tennis, with stars such as Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Martina Navratilova, Gabriela Sabatini and Pete Sampras wearing its brand. By the early 1990s, it was surpassed by Nike and Adidas.
China’s Billy Ngok, who is managing director of China Environmental Energy Holdings, bought Tacchini out of bankruptcy for $42 million in 2008
In 2010, Tacchini annual revenue was around $71 million. In the second quarter of 2011, Nike and Adidas reported revenue of $2.55 billion and $4.7 billion, respectively.
It is unclear how much Djokovic will be paid annually, but with Roger Federer is said to be earning somewhere around $13 million a year from Nike, and Maria Sharapova is taking in around $9 million per year from the same company, and Andy Murray earns about $4 million per year from adidas and can earn more if he meets specific playing targets. It is thought that Djokovic will earn at least that much.